Important facts about zebra and quagga mussels.
1. Zebra and Quagga mussels are both INVASIVE species to North America.
2. They originated in the Black and Caspian Seas of western Russia.
3. The mussels first arrived in North America in the 1980's when large trans-atlantic ships crossed over from Europe and discharged their ballast water into the Great Lakes.
4. They multiply rapidly. A single female will spawn over a million eggs in one year.
5. Newly-spawned larvae (called "veligers") are free-swimming and microscopic. They can be spread to new waterways in the smallest amount of standing water.
5. Zebra mussels prefer hard surfaces for colonization. Quagga mussels, on the other hand, are perfectly happy on soft surfaces (including sandy bottoms). With the two species together, every surface gets covered.
6. The mussels attach themselves to surfaces with little cords called byssal threads. The byssal threads are as tough as super glue. Once attached, it takes a tremendous force to remove them.
7. The mussels are very hard and very sharp.
8. The mussels are filter feeders. They filter out the tiny phytoplankton in the lake with incredible efficiency. The base layer of the food chain is removed and everything above it starves. Sport fish species are some of the hardest hit.
9. There is NO KNOWN WAY of getting rid of zebra or quagga mussels from a lake or river. Once they're in, they're in. Period.
Once zebra and quagga mussels enter a new lake or river, they set off a devastating chain of events. Here is a partial list of their many negative effects:
1. Every surface the water touches becomes a bulbous mass of razor sharp mussels. The lake bottom becomes a carpet of sharp mussels.
2. Swimmers cut their feet or any other part of their body that touches a mussel-encrusted surface.
3. Mussel shells wash up on beaches in massive amounts and render them un-walkable.
4. These same dead and dying mussels create a horrendous stench along the lakeshore.
5. The mussels encrust boats that are left in the water.
6. They encrust boat motors, and can get up into the inside of the motor, causing overheating and eventually destroying them.
7. The mussels infiltrate residential water intakes. Pipes can fill and become completely clogged all the way up into the house taps.
8. The mussels infiltrate municipal water systems and incur millions of dollars of ongoing costs. As a result, water bills and taxes go up.
9. The mussels infiltrate hydroelectric dams and incur millions of dollars of ongoing costs. As a result, power bills go up.
10. The mussels infiltrate agricultural irrigation systems and incur millions of dollars of ongoing costs. As a result, food costs go up.
11. The mussels infiltrate city fire-suppression systems. A city in Kansas had its system completely shut down.
12. The mussels multiply by the billions and trillions. Their liquid feces fills the water. Small invertebrates eat the toxic feces and then the toxins move up the food chain, eventually to people.
13. The feces also promote the growth of harmful alqae called Microcystis, a liver-toxin that is dangerous for swimmers, pets, and wildlife.
14. This same liver-toxin creates further problems for residential and municipal water supplies.
15. Fisheries collapse. In the Great Lakes, lake trout populations have been reduced by as much as 95%, and Atlantic Salmon are all but extinct.
16. The mussels coat spawning beds, so the few fish that are left have nowhere to lay their eggs.
17. The mussels' toxification effect on the lake leads to Avian Botulism. In the Great Lakes, tens of thousands of birds have died.
18. The mussels never go away, because there's no known way to get rid of them. Welcome to the NEW NORMAL.