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Thousands of historic shipwrecks in the US are being threatened by wood-destroying mussels

They’re hungry, hungry mollusks.

Thousands of historic shipwrecks sunk in the American Great Lakes are at risk of being lost forever thanks to invasive, wood-destroying mussels.

The lakes are home to an estimated 6,000 shipwrecks, with some dating back to the 17th century, according to estimates from the University of Buffalo.

The Quagga mussel, originally native to the waters of Russia and Ukraine, is believed to have arrived in the Great Lakes in 1989 — possibly as a result of ballast dumps from transoceanic freighters traversing the lakes.

The population of Quagga mussels has exploded in the waters of the once pristine lakes, where near-perfect visibility made the wrecks easy to see even decades after they went down.

Now the Quagga mussels have taken over, scientists say.

“What you need to understand is every shipwreck is covered with quagga mussels in the lower Great Lakes,” said Wisconsin state maritime archaeologist Tamara Thomsen.

“Everything. If you drain the lakes, you’ll get a bowl of quagga mussels.”

The mollusks burrow into the wood of ships and eventually become so numerous, that their sheer weight can crush what remains of the vessels.

They also produce a natural acid which can corrode the iron in the shipwrecks, experts say.

There is currently no way to stop the unrelenting shellfish and scientists are racing to excavate as many of the ships as possible before they are consumed.

With Post wires

With Post wires

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