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Brachidontes rostratus (Family Mytilidae)

Beaked Mussel


The Beaked Mussel ranges from southern New South Wales, near Tuross Heads, around southern Australian shores to south-western Western Australia. In Victoria near Lorne and Apollo Bay, it is the most dominant organism on many rocky shores (NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA).


A long (36- 40 mm length: height 20 mm), equal-valved mussel, with distinctive umbos (bumps near the hinge area) which form a sharp beak, giving its common name, Beaked Mussel. Both the front end and rear ends are rounded. The sculpture is of fine radial striations, much finer than in the Rough-beaked Mussel, Brachidontes erosus. Other features are the 2-3 teeth on the left valve, and the 1-2 teeth on the right valve. There are also several small denticles (teeth, or bumps) further along the shell edge. The area near the umbos is often eroded. The shell is purplish-black to nearly black, with a bluish black to purple interior. When worn, the shell becomes increasingly purple, most prominent near the umbos.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Beaked Mussel occurs in large, too vast clusters on exposed rocky shores and in crevices below the high-tide mark. It attaches to exposed rock using a thread-like byssus. On southern shores, this mussel occupies any crack in the rock, usually in vast numbers. On some rocky areas sheets of mussels totally cover very large areas.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Beaked Mussel is so common on some Victorian shores that it is hard to believe that there could be any threat to it.

Other Comments:

Other Names: Mytilus rostratus, Brachyodontes rostratus, Dunker 1857, Austromytilus rostratus, Brachyodontes rostratus. Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987). W.J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. p. 314-5, Angus & Robertson.

Davey, K. (1988). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p. 123, New Holland Press.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.287, Reed.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p.289, Melbourne Univ. Press.

Marine Research Group of Victoria. (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p.83, Museum of Victoria.

Shepherd, S.A. & Thomas, I.M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. pt. II. p.634, South Aust. Govt. Press.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey

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