Need a novel gift idea? How about adopting a mussel?
The Ohio River Foundation is asking the public to symbolically adopt a mollusk this season to help support its mission of protecting and restoring the Ohio River and its watershed.
There are 10 famous mussels in need (similar to the equally renowned Kardashian Klan, their names all start with "M" for mussel) — Mariah, Monty, Maverick, Mandy, Moe, Maryann, Melody, Mike, Michele and Matt. And they are all a part of the nation's first Mussels in the Classroom program.
The shelled celebrities visit schools to help kids learn about freshwater mussels — which live in the Ohio River (who knew?) and help clean the water when they eat; they're filter feeders so they literally filter the water while they dine.
But according to the Ohio River Foundation, nearly half of the river basin's 127 mussel species are extinct, endangered or a "species of concern" as a result of overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction.
So what can you do to help? Adopt one of the little dudes (or dudettes).
For $25, you can support any one of the foundation's mussels, or pick your favorite based on their personality. (Including all the photos here because we sincerely appreciate whoever dressed up these bivalves.)
"The most glamorous of our mussels, Mariah likes to hang out among the fancy rocks on the riverbed, like Quartz. She’s proud that she won ‘Miss Mussel 2018.'"
"Maverick is feisty, and will squirt you if you try to pick him up. He is not afraid of working hard and getting dirty, and is always trying to break his own record for gallons filtered in a day."
"Moe enjoys attending the Cincinnati Coffee Festival as a mussel ambassador, and believes that his filtration makes the best coffee. He also believes the crowds have actually come to see him."
"A lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan, Mandy dreams of being the next Reds mascot. She likes to pretend she is running the bases with her foot, leaving trails on the riverbed."
"Monty is a bodybuilder, and likes to show off his ‘muscles’ to the other mussels. He believes he can bury into the bottom substrate faster than any other mussel."
"A self-proclaimed nerd about water quality, she always ensures that the water she expels is of the highest quality."
"You will often see Melody with her foot out, freely exploring her surroundings. She enjoys her 100% organic, vegan diet of algae."
"Mike fancies himself a superhero for filtering pollutants out of the water. He secretly calls himself the ‘pollution solution’ when he is pretending to be a superhero."
"A true patriot, Matt loves that he lives in the Ohio River Valley, where the highest diversity of freshwater mussels exists of anywhere in the world."
"Michele is serious about interior design, and enjoys coating the inside of her shell with pearly pinks and whites."