Zebra Mussels

 

                                    

 

Species and Origin: Zebra mussels and a related species, the Quagga mussel, are small, fingernail-sized animals that attach to solid surfaces in water. Adults are 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches long and have D-shaped shells with alternating yellow and brownish colored stripes. Female zebra mussels can produce 100,000- 500,000 eggs per year. These develop into microscopic, free-living larvae (called veligers) that begin to form shells. After two-three weeks, the microscopic veligers start to settle and attach to any firm surface using "byssal threads". It is the only freshwater mussel that can attach to objects. They are native to Eastern Europe and Western Russia and were brought over to the Great Lakes in ballast water of freighters. Populations of zebra mussels were discovered in the Great Lakes about 1988.

Impacts: Zebra mussels can cause problems for lakeshore residents and recreationists. Homeowners that take lake water to water lawns can have their intakes clogged. Mussels may attach to motors and possibly clog cooling water areas. Shells can cause cuts and scrapes if they grow large enough on rocks, swim rafts and ladders. Anglers may lose tackle as the shells can cut fishing line. Zebra mussels can also attach to native mussels, killing them. Zebra mussels filter plankton from the surrounding water. This filtering can increase water clarity, which might cause more aquatic vegetation to grow at deeper depths and more dense stands. If a lake has high numbers of mussels over large areas, this filter feeding could impact the food chain, reducing food for larval fish.

Status: They have spread throughout the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River from Brainerd downstream, and are now in other rivers and inland lakes. They are established in Minnesota and were first found in the Duluth/Superior Harbor in 1989. The Infested Waters This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. list provides details of current infestations. Diving ducks, freshwater drum (sheepshead), and other fish eat zebra mussels, but will not significantly control them.

Means of spread: Mussels attach to boats, nets, docks, swim platforms, boat lifts, and can be moved on any of these objects. They also can attach to aquatic plants, making it critical to remove all aquatic vegetation before leaving a lake. Microscopic larvae may be carried in water contained in bait buckets, bilges or any other water moved from an infested lake or river.

Where to look: Examine boat hulls, swimming platforms, docks, aquatic plants, wood and other objects along shorelines of lakes and rivers. Join in the Volunteer Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program and report your efforts each year.

Regulatory Classification: It is a prohibited invasive species (DNR), which means import, possession, transport, and introduction into the wild is prohibited.

 

Many Minnesota recreational lakes have been or soon will be infested with this non-native aquatic invasive species. Action now may delay or prevent our lake from being infested by zebra mussels.
To see an interactive map of the historical spread of the zebra mussel across the United States since 1986 click on this link.

 

Zebra Mussels - Silent Invaders. This quick moving information video series focuses on the devastation being caused by zebra and quagga mussels and features a number of leading scientists, including Dan Malloy of the New York State Museum and Tom Nalepa from NOAA.

Segment 1: Intro to Zebra & Quagga Mussels (5:56)

Segment 2: Zebra / Quagga Mussel Food Web Destruction (4:59)

Segment 3: Zebra / Quagga Mussel Control (5:44)

Segment 4: Zebra / Quagga Managing the Spread (4:50)

 

What You Can Do

  • Learn to recognize zebra mussels.
  • Inspect and remove aquatic plants, animals, and mud from boat, motor, and trailer.
  • Drain water from boat, motor, livewell, bilge, and bait containers.
  • Dispose of unwanted live bait and worms in the trash.
  • Rinse boat and equipment with high-pressure and/or hot water (140° F), especially if moored for over a day, OR
  • Dry everything for at least 5 days. Non-native equipment (docks, lifts, swim platforms etc should be dried for 21 days or more when moved from lake to lake!)
  • Never introduce fish, plants, crayfish, snails or clams from one body of water to another.
  • Report new sightings - note exact location; place specimens in a sealed plastic bag or store in rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol; if in Minnesota, call the Minnesota Sea Grant Program in Duluth, (218) 726-8712; the Minnesota DNR in St. Paul, 1-888-MINNDNR, or (651) 259-5100; or a local DNR fishery office.

 

 

ZEBRA MUSSEL RESOURCES

 

General Information From The Minnesota DNR Website

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/aquaticanimals/zebramussel/index.html

Important points to note from this summary:

Means of spread: Mussels attach to boats, nets, docks, swim platforms, boat lifts, and can be moved on any of these objects. They also can attach to aquatic plants, making it critical to remove all aquatic vegetation before leaving a lake. Microscopic larvae may be carried in water contained in bait buckets, bilges or any other water moved from an infested lake or river.

 

Where to look: Examine boat hulls, swimming platforms, docks, aquatic plants, wood and other objects along shorelines of lakes and rivers. Join in the Volunteer Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program and report your efforts each year.

 

Regulatory Classification: It is a prohibited invasive species (DNR), which means import, possession, transport, and introduction into the wild is prohibited.

 

These would be excellent points to emphasize in our educational efforts.

 

Volunteer Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteering/zebramussel_monitoring/index.html

In my humble opinion this is the equivalent of closing the door after the cows have left the barn.  I think this is indicative of the general tendency of the DNR, and Legislature for that matter, to be reactive and not proactive.

 

US Geological Survey

http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=5

This is an excellent summary.  Two highlights:

1)      A sobering description of the many issues caused by infestation.  Obviously the # 1 issue here at Lake Pulaski is losing the ability to control our lake level via pumping.  Zebra mussel infestation also increases water clarity over time.  This may appear to be a positive development but would result in increased weed growth due to sunlight penetrating further beneath the water surface.

2)      A map showing areas of infestation nationwide.

 

US Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center

http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/main.php?content=research_invasive_zebramussel&title=Invasive%20Invertebrates0&menu=research_invasive_invertebrates

This summary is similar to the previous one, but is written in less scientific language.  A few highlights:

“Once zebra mussels become established in a water body, they are impossible to eradicate with the technology available today. Many chemicals kill zebra mussels, but these exotics are so tolerant and tough that everything in the water would have to be poisoned to destroy the mussel.”

“The issue of biological control has frequently been raised as a natural means to destroy zebra mussels. To date, no biological control methodology is available, although efforts are underway by various researchers to develop such a species-specific control agent. Release of predators such as black carp that would eat zebra mussels has often been recommended but would be ineffective. Many native animals already in the Great Lakes eat zebra mussels and in some areas are reducing mussel numbers. The problem is one of scale. The lakes are so large and zebra mussels so prolific that, like cockroaches, zebra mussel continue to survive. Zebra mussels may ultimately suffer population loss through loss of food. Massive amounts of food are required to support high population densities of zebra mussels, and planktonic food supplies have declined over the last decade.”

“Although removing zebra mussels from a lake or river is almost impossible, preventing their spread into new areas is not. Human activities have spread zebra mussels into many inland lakes and streams, usually through recreational boating, fishing, and diving practices. Simple steps such as draining live wells, cleaning vegetation off boat trailers, removing attached zebra mussels from boat hulls, and not dumping bait into lakes or rivers can prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other exotics into non-infested waters.”

Something to link about::

“SCUBA divers must also remain vigilant to prevent the spread of zebra mussels into non-infested waters. Zebra mussel veligers can survive for long periods on wetsuits, drysuits, buoyancy compensators, tanks (including boots and protective mesh), regulators, gauges, masks, fins, and snorkels.”

 

US Geological Survey Southeast Ecological Science Center

http://fl.biology.usgs.gov/Nonindigenous_Species/Zebra_mussel_FAQs/zebra_mussel_faqs.html

This summary contains similar information in a FAQ format.

 

Missouri Department of Conservation

http://mdc.mo.gov/landwater-care/invasive-species/invasive-animal-management/zebra-mussel-control

This summary contains specific boat cleaning instructions.  We should consider including these instructions in our educational efforts.

   

US Geological Survey – Information on Quagga Mussels

 http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?speciesid=95

Based on the map in this item, Quagga mussel infestation appears to be confined to the Mississippi River and tributaries.

 

Minnesota DNR LakeFinder

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html

This is a useful database searchable by lake name or county name.  I was able to confirm information found elsewhere: that Fish Lake is the only lake in Wright County with a confirmed infestation.

 

 

 

MORE INFORMATION:

 

Long Term Funding needs for aquatic invasive species programs. MNDNR Report to Environmental and Natural Resources Committee of the MN House and Senate 1/15/12. http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/aboutdnr/reports/legislative/ais_long_term_funding_leg_report_january_2012.pdf

 

Star Tribune January 28, 2012 - Carver County inspectors join battle to stop zebra mussels by Tom Meersman http://www.startribune.com/local/west/138267939.html

 

Star Tribune January 28, 2012 lake Groups Join together against zebra mussels http://www.startribune.com/local/west/138266589.html

 

DNR launches new prevention efforts in 2012 to slow the spread of aquatic invasive species http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2012/01/06/dnr-launches-new-prevention-efforts-in-2012-to-slow-spread-of-aquatic-invasive-species/

 

Star Tribune - Zebra Mussel Class now in session 1/27/12 http://www.startribune.com/local/138173069.html

 

Lake Minnetonka Zebra Mussels http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/minnetonka_zebra_mussels/index.html

 

Zebra Mussel Fact Sheet

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/natural_resources/invasives/aquaticanimals/zebramussel/lake_minnetonka_zm_factsheet.pdf

 

Zebra Mussel Info from MCWD http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/natural_resources/invasives/aquaticanimals/zebramussel/prevent_spread_of_zm.pdf

 

Lake service provider training sheet http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/natural_resources/invasives/aquaticanimals/zebramussel/lake_service_training_sheet.pdf

 

Q & A Transport of watercraft and Lakeshore Equipment from infested waters http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/natural_resources/invasives/aquaticanimals/zebramussel/infested_waters_lake_service_q_a.pdf

Q & A Drain Plug law http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/invasives/q_and_a_drain_plug_law_20110609.pdf

USGS resource page on Quagga & Zebra Mussels http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/mollusks/zebramussel/