| Mar 16, 2006

March 16, 2006

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March 16, 2006

Did youknow?Zebra mussels invading your lake are invisible

Commentary by GrayMerriam

Invasive exotic species are moving from infested lakes to clean lakes mostly with our help. Invasives such as zebra mussels, spiny waterfleas, fish-hook waterfleas, European milfoil and such exotics can move along river systems but they don’t transfer into new lakes without our help.

Although zebra mussels, as adults, are big, obvious and mussel-like, their mobile form is a microscopic larva. You are not going to see zebra mussels hitch-hiking on your boat but you may still be moving them into a new lake where they do not already live. Their microscopic larvae are the culprits. Without a thorough washing with a pressure washer or a steam cleaner or some germicide, your boat may be responsible for the spread of these European invaders to yet another lake.

Weeds such as European milfoil are easier to stop. Never remove your boat from any water body without thoroughly cleaning off any plant material from the prop, the anchor and all lines and gear.


Spiny water fleas are virtually microscopic but you can avoid moving them to new lakes simply by not moving any water between lakes. Not in the bilge, not in bait buckets, not in bailers.

All the problems with moving species between lakes are not just with exotic species. It also is damaging to introduce our own native species into lakes where they have not lived before. Many fisheries have been severely changed by introduction of Ontario species into a lake where they are not native. The fishes that are native to a lake form a community over time that is adapted to that particular environment and to each other. Dumping a bait bucket can introduce species from elsewhere that can upset that adapted community of species.

The Invading Species Watch Program uses volunteer workers to provide lake water samples for laboratory detection of invading species and to provide action plans where invaders are detected. Contact this program through the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters at 1-800-563-7711.

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