Blue mussel

Common mussel; scientific name: Mytilus edulis complex
Blue mussels in a basket
Sampled blue mussels during the sampling
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.

For more information about the specimen, the sampling and the processing of samples see the Guideline for Sampling and Sample Processing Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis complex)

Target organs/Matrices

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

Sampling area


Sampling period

1985 - 2022

Extended information

Links to external information and legislation