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Fan mussel

Observation et marquage d'une jeune nacre (Ph. N. Vicente).
Observation et marquage d’une jeune nacre (Ph. N. Vicente).
Juvéniles de <i>Pinna nobilis</i> obtenus par captage en mer sur filière. (Ph. N. Vicente).
Juvéniles de Pinna nobilis obtenus par captage en mer sur filière. (Ph. N. Vicente).

Protected by law since 1992 [1], the fan mussel, Pinna nobilis, is one of the largest shellfish in the world. Endemic to the Mediterranean, often observed between five and fifty metres depth, it is of roughly triangular shape. The length is sometimes greater than one metre. Infeodated to the Posidonia seagrass meadow, the fan mussel lives implanted in the sediment by the lower point up to one third of its length.

The reproductive phenomena of this hermaphroditic species were described in 1990 in a Ph.D. thesis by Béatrice de Gaulejac, at the time assistant to Professor Vicente at Aix-Marseille university.
Today, the research directed by Prof. Vicente, Scientific Counsellor of the Paul Ricard Oceanography Institute is focused on the biology and physiology of this bivalve mollusc.

The induction of reproduction, fertilization and embryonic development have been studied in large tanks at the Research Centre at Les Embiez. Captures of larvae are also carried out in order to analyse the recruitment of young individuals in various sectors.

In addition, multiannual programmes with inventories and monitoring of populations of fan mussels are carried out at various sites : the Port-Cros National Park, the Scandola Natural Reserve, Corsica, the Côte Bleue Marine Park and the Les Embiez archipelago.

The fan mussel serves as a real sentinel for the Mediterranean littoral, since its size and life span constitute a record of patterns of change in physical and chemical parameters in the marine environment.

[1] It is covered by Appendix IV and Directive 92/43/CEE of the Council on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (EC Habitats Directive).

Several European Mediterranean partners are associated with the research programme :
-  Catholic University of Valencia (Dr. Jose Rafael Garcia March) ;
-  Mediterranean and Continental Marine Biodiversity and Ecology Institute (Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie Marine et Continentale)(Prof. Thierry Tatoni).

-  Caisse d’Épargne Côte d’Azur


de Gaulejac B., 1993 – Etude écophysiologique du mollusque bivalve
méditerranéen Pinna nobilis L. reproduction ; croissance ; respiration - Thèse en Sciences : Écophysiologie marine : Université d’Aix-Marseille 3, 221pp

de Gaulejac B., M. Henry M., N. Vicente, 1995 - An Ultrastructural study of gametogenesis of the marine bivalve Pinna nobilis (Linnaeus 1758). I. Oogenesis. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 61 : 375-392.

de Gaulejac B. , M. Henry , N. Vicente, 1995 - An Ultrastructural study of
gametogenesis of the marine bivalve Pinna nobilis (Linnaeus 1758). II. Spermatogenesis. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 61  : 393-403.

de Gaulejac B., N. Vicente, 1997- Pinna nobilis : captage de naissain, première estimation de la population de l’herbier du
Parc national de Port-Cros. Parc National de Port-Cros,11p. [Rapport dans le cadre du contrat n°96-020-83400 PC].

First website on the fan mussel (2000) :

› Download (in French, Abstract in English)- Premier séminaire sur la Grande nacre (first seminar on the fan mussel) (2002) PDF (4.5 Mo)

› Download (in French only) - Protocole d’étude et de surveillance des populations de Pinna nobilis dans des aires marines protégées (research protocol and monitoring of fan mussel populations in marine protected areas) (2006) PDF (3.1 Mo)