The Golden Cleat
Zebra Mussel Earrings
Adorn yourself with these tiny freshwater mollusks as a reminder of our collective responsibility to preserve and protect our treasured waterways. This collection was thoughtfully designed and handcrafted in the hopes of invoking a sense of wonder for the natural world and at the same time sparking conversations about invasive species and other pressing ecological topics. Learn more about the zebra mussel below.
Select pendant size, chain length, and metal type from the dropdown menu.
- select zebra mussel size (small, medium, or large)
- select metal type (sterling silver or solid 14K gold)
- handmade in the USA
The ubiquitous zebra mussel is not native to the St. Lawrence River. The diminutive mollusk stowed away in ship ballasts, hitching a ride to North America all the way from the Caspian Sea in the mid-1980s. With few natural predators, zebra mussel colonies flourished and tiny crustacean clusters rapidly dominated the coastline of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
Zebra mussels are filter feeders, cleansing water and reducing contaminants and algae, resulting in noticeably clearer waterways. However, they are also disruptive to the ecosystem, clogging pipes, contaminating water treatment facilities, damaging harbors and boats, and threatening native species. As you may know from personal experience, the edges of their shells are infamously sharp, leaving people prone to cutting their feet while wading or swimming.
There is no question that zebra mussels are here to stay. And while we can’t eradicate this invasive species, we can certainly learn from our passivity and work harder to prevent more aquatic hitchhikers from entering and disrupting our ecosystem in the future.