Cybermussels taste the river
(Image: University of Iowa)

Mussels with backpacks monitor Mississippi’s health

18 January 2013 by Hal Hodson

RIVER mussels wearing tiny sensor backpacks could help monitor the Mississippi for dangerous pollutants. The plan is for the mussels to measure the flow of nitrogen-rich fertiliser that courses down the river and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. An excess of the nutrient there can cause dead zones that suffocate marine life.

Researchers at the University of Iowa in Iowa City have attached wireless sensor packages to mussels for measuring their “gape” – how much their shells are open. They are also working on monitoring the animals’ heart rate, how much water they filter and when they burrow. Each behaviour changes according to the water conditions.

Read more: Mussels with backpacks monitor Mississippi's health – tech – 18 January 2013 – New Scientist.

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