Zebra mussels - we've all heard of them and feared them as lake lovers. Zebra mussels are small aquatic mollusks that have been found in several lakes across the country. They are destructive creatures that you do not want in your lake. As a lake lover, you may want to know how they spread, how they impact our lakes and how to look for them and properly clean your boat when going from lake to lake to do your part in preventing the spread.
How Zebra Mussels Spread
Zebra mussels spread from lake to lake in many different ways. One of the most common ways you may hear about often is from hitchhiking on your watercraft or maybe even on a dock that gets moved from one lake to another. Their larvae spread within bodies of water in the form of plankton. They also can spread by live wells, bait buckets, buoys, bilge water and anything else that moves from one body of water to another.
How Zebra Mussels Impact Our Lakes
Zebra mussels impact our lakes in several negative ways. One of the main ways they impact our lakes is that they filter out algae which is needed for food for many species in the lakes. They also can cause many other negative impacts like:
Causing scrapes and cuts for people enjoying the water.
Crowding out native mussels and possibly even killing them.
Coating or crowding pipes or water intakes that can create problems for residents, power plants and cities.
Creating water toxicity like botulism. This happens because the zebra mussels filter out algae, which then lowers oxygen levels in the water which allows for more bacteria growth.
Help Stop the Spread of Zebra Mussels
In order for the best prevention of zebra mussels, we must all do our part. Here are some ways you can help prevent the spread:
Inspect your boat, trailer, and all other recreational equipment that has came in contact with the water.
Remove all plants, mud, or animals from your boat, trailer, etc.
Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
Drain all water from your bilge, live well, bait buckets, equipment, etc.
Wash off all parts of your boat, paddles, and other equipment that may have touched the water. When doing this, be sure that none of this water washes out into any bodies of water or streams.
Dry boats and trailers in the sun for at least 5 days before moving them into a different lake.