Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Clean, Drain and Dry! Help Keep Invasive Mussels OUT of Our Waterways.

Note: This is a guest post by Molly Sullivan, intern for the Washington Invasive Species Council

Zebra mussels on a young Higgins eye pearlymussel, an endangered species found in the Mississippi river. (USFWS)
Here in Washington we top the charts in quite a few categories: rain, coffee, and zebra/quagga mussel prevention. Zebra/quagga mussel prevention?! Yes! Washington remains one of the few states that has not been infested with these harmful little mussels. Hitchhikers from Eastern Europe, zebra and quagga mussels have taken over many lakes and streams in the United States and with no natural predators here, they quickly outcompete native species for food, overcrowd habitats, introduce diseases, clog drains and pipes, and reduce biodiversity. Plus, walking on these buggers barefoot will definitely ruin your day at the lake! 

Keeping Washington free from these invaders is no easy task though. Much time and many resources have been used in this battle against the mussels! Various checkpoints for boats and decontamination stations have been set up around Washington by government agencies. But the most important line of defense is…YOU! 

Quagga mussels on a boat motor near Lake Mead (Allen Pleus - WDFW)
Properly cleaning, draining and drying your boat before entering any body of water is the best prevention tool to date. Since zebra and quagga mussels can attach to boats and survive for weeks without a water source, properly and completely drying your boat is a MUST!! As the oncoming promise of spring and summer months continue to taunt us, and we start our prep for boating season, it is always good to remember: CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY your boat and water related equipment, so that we can continue to enjoy all the natural splendors of Washington.

More information on how to protect our waters from invasive aquatic hitchhikers can be found here:

Protect Your Waters -
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -
WA Invasive Species Council -
WA Invasive Species Education -

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