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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Rare giant mussel is discovered
Rathlin sea bed
The finds were made on the seabed off Rathlin
A type of giant mussel thought to have been extinct in Irish waters has been found off Rathlin Island.

The fan mussel is the UK's largest and rarest bivalve mollusc and was thought to be found only in Plymouth Sound and a few sites off the west of Scotland.

Once widely sought after by Victorian shell-collectors, it is very vulnerable to pollution, trawling and dredging.

The foot-long mussel was discovered by divers from the Environment and Heritage Service and the Ulster Museum.

"This find is especially significant as the only known living example in Ireland," Joe Breen of the EHS said.

"This fan mussel has been photographed and videoed for record and the team will conduct a wider survey soon to establish if this individual is part of an isolated population.

"The location of this find off Rathlin will be kept secret and reinforces the Island's reputation as a world hotspot for marine biodiversity."

The divers also discovered two species of sea anemone - one of which they believe to be previously unknown.

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