As the invasion of zebra & quagga mussels continues to spread to new waterways in the US, concerns are rising over where these invasive mollusks will turn up next. First discovered in the United States in Lake St. Clair in 1988, these invasive mussels have spread throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi River regions and now inhabit more than 20 US states and two Canadian provinces. Capable of reproducing at a prolific rate, once these invasive mussels take up residence in a body of water it is not long before they can form into large populations known as ‘colonies’. These colonies will attach to any hard subsurface structure including docks, boat hulls, buoys, dam intakes, and even other aquatic species such as native mussels, freshwater clams, and turtles. In addition to the damage they can cause through colonization, these mussels are also filter feeders capable of filtering plankton from up to a liter of water per day creating competition for food with native species.
Under controlled conditions such as intake facilities and pipes, populations of zebra mussels can be eliminated with the help of commercial dive teams trained in the removal of zebra mussels as well as with the use of chemical treatments as long as there is no risk of impacting a surrounding body of water. Controlling growing zebra mussel populations in the wild is a much more difficult process and has proven to be an extremely costly endeavor with limited success, however earlier this month Minnesota DNR officials began testing a new treatment known as Zequanox® on a lake that has just recently started to show populations of invasive mussels. Developed by Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., Zequanox® is a biological product that is species selective with a demonstrated effectiveness controlling invasive mussels such as zebra and quagga mussels.
Zequanox® was first approved in 2012 by the EPA for use in controlled applications in enclosed systems such as energy plants, manufacturing facilities, and private water bodies and received EPA approval for open water use in rivers, lakes, and other bodies of waters earlier this year. Pending additional reports from the test study being conducted by the MN DNR, the effectiveness on Zequanox® in larger bodies of water or as a large scale treatment solution will remain unknown, and until proven solution is available, prevention is still the best method to reduce the spread of invasive mussels. You can help prevent the spread of invasive mussels by taking a few extra minutes before you leave the lake.
Always inspect boats, personal watercraft, and trailers thoroughly for invasive mussels after leaving or before entering a body of water, and if you happen to notice a mussel colony in a body of water that frequently visit you should report it to your local DNR or Fish & Wildlife office immediately. At Midco Diving & Marine Services, we offer onsite zebra mussel inspection, removal, and control services. Our team can quickly help you assess the nature and severity of the situation and can help mitigate the problem by utilizing a range of different tools necessary to effectively remove the harmful colonies of mussels. If you would like more information on the zebra mussel elimination services that we offer, please give our office a call at 1-800-479-1558 or visit us online at www.midcodiving.com.