Zebra mussel found in St. Joseph River in Fort Wayne

Zebra Mussel.  Photo courtesy of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Press release from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

Zebra mussels mean trouble

A lone zebra mussel was found attached to a rock in the St. Joseph River in Fort Wayne this month during routine sampling led by Saint Francis University assistant professor Warren Pryor.

That could signal big trouble for waters in that area, much as the mussel’s presences has affected others.

Though found in more than 75 bodies of water in 43 counties throughout Indiana, the discovery marks the first time that the mussel has been found in Allen County. Zebra mussels were also discovered earlier in the year in Sylvan Lake, the first find in Noble County.

Doug Keller, aquatic invasive species coordinator with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said the effect of zebra mussels can be devastating where the invasive species successfully colonizes.

“Zebra mussels can rapidly multiply and are known for clogging drainage and filtration pipes,” Keller said. “Besides pipes, they can attach to virtually anything in the water column, including rocks, limbs, piers or even boats.”

Zebra mussels are originally from Europe and spread rapidly across North America in the 1990s. Aside from being a costly nuisance to humans, zebra mussels may also cause declines in fish populations. By filtering tiny plants, called phytoplankton, out of the water column, zebra mussels diminish the base of the food chain, potentially causing declines in all other aquatic life, including fish.

Keller said that few options for eradicating the mussel exist, short of eliminating every other living thing in the river. The best means of control, he said, is by educating boaters about preventing further spread of the mussel.

Typically, zebra mussels are transported by human recreational activities such as boating or fishing. A few simple tasks can prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species. Removing all aquatic vegetation and draining livewells, bilge, water lines and boat trailers at access ramps will prevent transport of the mollusk to other waters. Drying equipment after each use also is important.

“Letting all equipment dry for five days after a boating trip will prevent the spread of both adults and larvae,” Keller said. “However, if you plan to visit a body of water sooner, you can use a solution of 5 percent bleach and water to clean and disinfect all of your equipment.”

The DNR has posted informational signs at all DNR-owned boat ramps to remind users of these procedures. For more information, visit this webpage, or contact Keller at (317) 234-3883.

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