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Zebra Mussels have invaded Kansas
and need to be stopped
Jan. 12, 2004 - El Dorado Reservoir - By now most anglers and boaters are aware of the discovery of the dreaded Zebra Mussels at El Dorado Reservoir.

The barnacle-sized zebra mussel poses a multibillion-dollar threat to North America's industrial, agricultural, and municipal water supplies, and it could become a costly nuisance for freshwater shipping, boating, fishing, and clamming. First found in 1988 in the Great Lakes, this invader could become more wide-spread than the common carp and cause far more economic damage than the Mediterranean fruit fly. Click on photo for larger view.

Public assistance in reporting zebra mussell sightings at new locations is essential to help prevent its spread to other inland lakes and rivers.

Zebra mussels look like small clams with a yellowish-brown D-shaped shell, usually with alternating dark- and light-colored stripes. The can be up to two inches long, but most are less than an inch. (Click on photo to right to see a comparative size.) Zebra mussels usually grow in clusters containing numerous individuals and are generally found in shallow (6-30 feet), algae-rich water.

Zebra mussels are the only freshwater molusk that can firmly attach itself to firm objects such as submerged rocks, dock pilings, boat hulls, aquatic vegetation, and water intake pipes.

If you discover zebra mussels, note the date and precise location where they were found. Take one or more mussels with you and store them in rubbing alcohol. Do not throw them back in the water!

Contact the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Research and Survey Office, 1830 Merchant, P.O. Box 1525, Emporia, KS 66801, (620) 342-0658, or any of the department's regional offices.

How did they get here?
The zebra mussel escaped from its homeland in the Black and Caspian seas in the 1700s and emigrated to western Europe. From there, it hitched a ride in the ballast tanks of ships across the Atlantic and through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great lakes. Then adults and larvae spread to the Illinois and Missippi rivers by barge and boat traffic.

In addition to El Dorado, zebra mussels have bee found as close to Kansas as the Port of Catoosa on the Verdigris river in Oklahoma.

Unlike other freshwater mussel larvae, zebra mussels don't attach to fish or other hosts prior to adulthood. Consequently, they can easily spread anywhere that wather currents, wildlife, or human activities take them. One of the zebra mussel's most effective means of dispersion is travelling in bilge water of boats.

Why worry?
If the zebra mussel's westward invasion follows the pattern observed elsewhere, the creature's population in the Mississippi River will peak in a few years. For the zebra musse, "peak" population is thousands per square foot, covering every inch of solid surface down to 45 feet.

Zebra mussels can attach to anything firm, including water intakes of power generating plants and unicipal water systems. They can accumulate 6 inches deep, severely reducing the flow of water and posing a multibillion-dollar threat to industry, agriculture, and municipal water supplies.

Because of their sheer numbers (females can produce 100,000 eggs per season), zebra mussels can smother native freshwater mussel beds.

 

 

 

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