The exhalant jet of mussels Mytilus edulis

Hans Ulrik Riisgard, Bo Hoffmann Jørgensen, Kim Lundgreen, Francesca Storti, Jens Honore Walther, Knud Erik Meyer, Poul Scheel Larsen

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The exhalant jet flow of mussels in conjunction with currents and/or other mussels may strongly influence the mussels' grazing impact. Literature values of mussel exhalant jet velocity vary considerably and the detailed fluid mechanics of the near-mussel flow generated by the exhalant jet has hitherto been uncertain. Computational modelling of this phenomenon depends on knowledge of the velocity distribution near the exhalant siphon aperture of mussels to provide appropriate boundary conditions for numerical flow models. To be useful such information should be available for a range of mussel shell lengths. Here, we present results of a detailed study of fully open mussels Mytilus edulis in terms of filtration rate, exhalant siphon aperture area, jet velocity, gill area and body dry weight, all as a function of shell length (mean +/- SD) over the range 16.0 +/- 0.4 to 82.6 +/- 2.9 mm, with the corresponding scaling laws also presented. The exhalant jet velocity was determined by 3 methods: (1) measured clearance rate divided by exhalant aperture area, (2) manual particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) using video-microscope recordings, and (3) particle image velocimetry (PIV). The latter provides detailed 2-component velocity distributions near the exhalant siphon in 5 planes parallel to the axis of the jet and the major axis of the oval aperture, and hence estimates of momentum and kinetic energy flows in addition to mean velocity. Data obtained on particles inside the exhalant jet of filtered water was verified by the use of titanium dioxide seeding particles which were de-agglomerated by ultrasound to a size range of 0.7 to 2 mu m prior to addition, to avoid retention by the gill filter of the mussels. We found that exhalant jet velocity was essentially constant at similar to 8 cm s(-1), and independent of shell length. Based on geometric similarity and scaling of mussel pump-system characteristics we found that these characteristics coincide approximately for all sizes when expressed as pressure head versus volume flow divided by shell length squared.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Ecology - Progress Series
Pages (from-to)147-164
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Allometric equation
  • Particle image velocimetry
  • Particle tracking velocimetry
  • Velocity field
  • Exhalant jet velocity
  • Scaling law
  • Filtration rate
  • Exhalant siphon area

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