LINCOLN, Nebraska -- Larvae of the destructive quagga mussel, a species similar to the zebra mussel, recently have been discovered in several Colorado waters, including Julesburg Reservoir. Zebra mussels have been discovered in northeast Nebraska on sites along the Missouri River and at an Offutt Air Force Base lake.
According to Darrol Eichner, fisheries management supervisor for southwest Nebraska, whose responsibilities encompass Lake McConaughy, zebra and quagga mussels are extremely destructive. "They damage boat engines, threaten native mussels, fish and wildlife through competition and cost taxpayers millions of dollars by clogging power plant and public water intakes and pipes."
Eichner said the primary way these mussels can spread is on boats trailered by the public or commercial haulers. They can spread on boat hulls as visible adults ranging from 1/8- to 1-inch in size. They also can be transported as microscopic larvae, called veligers, in a boat's engine cooling system, bilge and live well water. If a fishing or recreational boat has been in infested waters for less than one day, it could be carrying zebra mussels.
Eichner said they are quite prolific. "A female can release up to one million eggs each season, so transporting just one zebra mussel can spell trouble for western waters and your boat."
Zebra mussels were introduced to the Great Lakes in 1986 in ship ballast water. They have spread to at least 20 states and two Canadian Provinces.
Eichner said Julesburg Reservoir is just too close for comfort to Nebraska waters, including Lake McConaughy. "We get a lot of Colorado boaters, and it would be very easy for adult mussels to hitch a ride on a boat hull, or for larvae to stow away in bilge and live wells for a ride into Nebraska."
Julesburg Reservoir is less than 50 miles from Lake McConaughy and is on the South Platte River drainage.
Eichner said it is critical that anglers realize that these exotic mussels can cause severe harm to the fishery as well as to personal boating equipment. Anglers should thoroughly inspect their boats, motors and trailers for the presence of zebra mussels. They should drain, dry and even wash off boats and trailers before moving from one lake to another. Zebra mussels produce young that are too small to see with the naked eye, but newly settled young feel like fine sandpaper on smooth boat hulls. As they grow, they can be seen on boat hulls, especially around the trim tabs, transducers, along keels and on lower units and propellers.
Source: The Fishing Wire