Blue Mussel Beds on Sediment

The Blue Mussel Mytilus edulis can form extensive beds in a range of conditions and on a variety of sediment types. The mussels produce sticky byssus threads which bind them together along with sand and mud. Blue Mussel beds play an important role in a healthy marine ecosystem.

Blue Mussels

Photo: Paul Naylor/Sussex Wildlife Trust

Why are they important?

  • Blue Mussel beds provide an important food source for wintering waders.
  • They are particularly important where they occur on soft sediments; providing a hard surface able to support other species.
  • They have a role in coastal sediment dynamics.

Blue Mussel Beds in Sussex

There is one main area of Blue Mussel beds on sediment known in Sussex.

What are the threats?

  • Removal for food or bait
  • Damage caused by mobile fishing equipment or anchoring
  • Trampling in intertidal zone
  • Pollution can become accumulated in the mussels, which can kill them

Some associated species

  • Brown Shrimp Crangon crangon
  • Rough Periwinkle Littorina saxatilis
  • Bladder Wrack Fucus vesiculosus
  • Daisy Anemone Cereus pedunculatus

Common Starfish

Photo: Paul Naylor/Sussex Wildlife Trust

Links to more information

The Marine Life Information Network