A clump of invasive zebra mussels. (Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Great Lakes exports mussels, advice and reporter to Texas

Clean, drain, dry is common advice among the Great Lakes boating community. Now it’s delivered with a southern drawl. The watercraft maintenance practice limits the spread of invasive species between lakes. And now it is used in Texas to limit the further spread of a Great Lakes menace threatening lakes in that state. Zebra mussels are again the target.  They entered the U.S. through the Great Lakes aboard freighters that inadvertently transported them from Eurasia.

This screen shot shows the spread of zebra and quagga mussels in 2006. (Image: The Nature Conservancy)

Maps show spread of aquatic invasive species over time

The Nature Conservancy has animated how six invasive species have spread across the Great Lakes over time. The group has created six maps that show population increase and spread since the appearance of each species in the Great Lakes basin and beyond. Sea lamprey, the first of the six invasive species to appear in the area, initially showed up in Lake Erie in 1921. The map shows the population of the fish expanding into the rest of the Great Lakes up until present day. Also included in the maps are Asian carp, zebra and quagga mussels, round goby, Eurasian Ruffe and black carp.

Zebra mussels, or "The Silent Strangler," have been named one of the five "usual suspects" doing damage in the Great Lakes basin. They get their name from the zebra-like stripes on their tiny shells, as seen above. (Image: The Nature Conservancy)

Invasive Species: Zebra Mussels


Zebra mussels are one of five aquatic invasive species that The Nature Conservancy has deemed “‘the usual suspects’ doing the most damage in the Great Lakes basin and beyond.”

Originally from Eastern Europe and western Russia, zebra mussels are the only freshwater mussels that can attach directly to other objects. They most likely have come over attached to the bottoms of ships. Once here, the mussels grow in population rapidly. Zebra mussels can produce 100,000 to 500,000 eggs per year, according to The Nature Conservancy. Nicknamed “the Silent Strangler,” these pests smother native freshwater mussels and kill plankton that some fish need to survive.

Coast Guard targets zebra mussels in Great Lakes

(IL) Chicago Sun Times – Twenty years after the pervasive zebra mussel was first detected in the Great Lakes, the U.S. Coast Guard is preparing rules to prevent new invasive species from infiltrating the nation’s freshwater systems.

Ecologists, environmentalists and public officials have mixed feelings about the rules. While they are delighted over the prospect of the first national standard for treating ship ballast water, they’re disappointed by the timetable. “We’ve been dealing with this issue literally for decades,” said Matt Frank, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “And we don’t believe the Coast Guard rules are aggressive enough.” More

Boaters beware: State checking for zebra mussels

(MN) Minneapolis Star Tribune – Boaters beware: Beginning this weekend, officials will be out in force trying to prevent the spread of invasive zebra mussels from Lake Mille Lacs, Prior Lake in Scott County and Rice Lake near Brainerd. The Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with other law enforcement agencies, including sheriffs’ departments, the State Patrol and tribal authorities, starting Memorial Day Weekend to check boats at those heavily used lakes. DNR conservation officers, watercraft inspectors and creel census clerks will be checking boats and informing boaters to inspect, remove and drain water from bait buckets, live wells and boats before leaving water accesses. Violators face up to $500 fines. More