Picture shows Diane, top right, collecting mussels from the bed of a local burn, helped by Rachael, while....
While we were there, they must have looked at upwards of forty mussels from two burns. Hearteningly, about 50% were carrying spat, but almost all were at stages 1 to 3, and none had reached the vital stage 5, where the spat could be transferred to a host. With the water warming up following recent sunshine, Lucy and Diane will be back very shortly to try yet again.
Some patterns are emerging. Of the three burns where we have seen pearl mussels, one contains only a very ageing population; one has a predominately middle-aged to old population; and the third, the smallest burn, has a good number of young mussels - but also contains a large percentage of dead ones.
Please note that it is illegal to disturb pearl mussels. The Lochaber Fisheries Trust works under a special licence.