|Live specimen of Pinna nobilis, in Levanto, Liguria (Italy)|
Pinna gigas Chemnitz
Pinna nobilis, common name the noble pen shell or fan mussel, is a large species of Mediterranean clam, a marine bivalve mollusc in the family Pinnidae, the pen shells. It reaches up to 120 cm (4 ft) of shell length.
The bivalve shell is usually 30–50 cm (1.0–1.6 ft) long, but can reach 120 cm (4 ft). Its shape differs depending on the region it inhabits. Like all pen shells, it is relatively fragile to pollution and shell damage. It attaches itself to rocks using a strong byssus composed of many silk-like threads which used to be made into cloth. The animal secretes these fibres from its byssus gland; they consist of keratin and other proteins and may be as long as 6 cm (2.4 in). The inside of the shell is lined with brilliant mother-of-pearl.
As with other members of its genus, Pinna nobilis hosts symbiotic shrimp which live inside its shell. It is believed that when it sees a threat, the shrimp warns the host, perhaps by retracting its claws or even by pinching. The clam then closes shut. It has been demonstrated that the shrimp has a similar filter-feeding diet to its host and the relationship is likely mutualistic.
This species is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, where it lives offshore at depths ranging between 0.5 and 60 m (1.6 and 196.9 ft). It could be found buried beneath soft-sediment areas (fine sand, mud, often anoxic).
In recent years, Pinna nobilis has become threatened with extinction, due in part to fishing, incidental killing by trawling and anchoring, and the decline in seagrass fields; pollution kills eggs, larvae, and adult mussels. The noble pen shell has been listed as an endangered species in the Mediterranean Sea. The European Council Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC, on conservation of natural habitats and the wild fauna and flora, proclaims that P. nobilis is strictly protected (by the Annex IV of EEC, 1992) – all forms of deliberate capture or killing of fan mussel specimens are prohibited by law.
The very fine byssus threads of P. nobilis
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- Reuters video about the Pinna nobilis relocation
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