The first zebra mussel was discovered in the US twenty years ago. Scientists believe it was brought over by a Russian ship due to its tendency to “hitchhike” on the bottoms of boats. According to an article on Boston.com, preventative measures against the spread of zebra mussels began in 2005, but didn’t pose a problem until June 2009. Although Laurel Lake is the only impacted one in Massachusetts, zebra mussels infect the Great lakes as well as other lakes in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Vermont and other states.
WBZ News expressed concern over the new invaders for not only do they prevent people from swimming because of their sharp bodies, but they can also clog pipes, kill aquatic life, alter the ecosystem and foul water supplies. If they were to get into the pipe systems, the mussels could threaten millions of dollars of infrastructure damage. The fish are put in danger for each mussel can consume up to a gallon of water per day and filter out the zooplankton, a central part to a fish’s diet. Due to mussel’s ability to filter out and clean the water, aquatic plants beneficial to other species may emerge, and therefore drastically changing the ecosystem. Luckily the water supply remains out of danger for Laurel Lake is not the water supply for the region. To prevent the expensive and harmful effects of the invasive species, the government has focused on educating boat owners about properly cleaning boats exiting Laurel Lake.
Despite the continual problem of zebra mussels in Laurel Lake, it seems as if the preventative measures have been successful so far (no other Massachusetts lakes have been infected, only small tributaries surrounding Laurel Lake). Unlike the Eurasian watermilfoil, which can easily be spread simply by the felt on fly fisher’s shoes due to its relatively discreet appearance, the zebra mussels are much more detectable, and therefore are less likely to be transferred to another lake without notice.
I did a post on zebra mussels too! Educating boat owners to properly clean boats is probably the best way to prevent invasion of these zebra mussels since most of the spread is probably by boat. I had map of the spread of these mussels in my post and all the rivers in the area were filled with the mussels. They completely spread all over the waterways.