Blue mussel

Common mussel; scientific name: Mytilus edulis complex
Blue mussel
Photo: UPB-Projektgruppe Trier

One of the most important edible mussel species common in the North and Baltic Sea

The common mussel is one of the biggest producers of biomass in coastal waters. Its method of feeding causes it to filter from the water hazardous substances which have either dissolved or been adsorbed by organic and anorganic particulate.

The common mussel has been used for many years in national and international monitoring programmes as a load indicator for hazardous substances in coastal waters, and there is even a recommendation to set up a worldwide mussel watch. The reasons for this are its significant function in the coastal water system, its ability to absorb and accumulate many hazardous substances rapidly while remaining sufficiently resistant, its sedentary behaviour with a high probability that mature individuals will not migrate from their original site, adequate availability, extensive geographical presence and not least widespread use as a source of human food.

The entire soft body is used as a specimen. Sampling takes place every two months.

Guideline for Sampling and Sample Processing Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis complex)

Target organs/Matrices

Soft body The soft body of the mussel enriches the filtrated substances. It consists of muscles and inner organs.

Sampling area

NP Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park in the largest brackish water (Bodden) habitat of the world.
BR/NP Wattenmeere National park in the world largest connected sand and mud flats.


Metals Eighty percent of all elements on earth are metals
Nonmetals Only eighteen elements in the periodic table
Organometallic compounds Organic substances with at least one metall atom
Chlorohydrocarbons Group of organic compounds with at least one covalently bonded chlorine atom
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Group of organic compounds with at least three condensed six-membered rings
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds Organic compounds which are fully (per-) or partially (poly-) fluorinated
Polycyclic musks Class of synthetic fragrances
Alkylphenol compounds Class of non-ionic surfactants and their degradation products
Stable Isotopes Atoms of one element with different weights
Flame Retardants Flame retardants reduce the flammability of objects
Supplementary parameters Additional information for the interpretation of contamination data

Sampling period

1985 - 2019

Biometric parameters

Shell weight  

Extended information

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