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Help stop the spread of zebra mussels

Zebra mussels are small freshwater mollusks that are native to Eastern Europe/Western Asia. They are believed to have been transported by freighters from European ports in ballast water, which was discharged into the Great Lakes.

How zebra mussels spread

Zebra mussels spread in a few ways:

  • Their larvae, also called veligers, spread within bodies of water in the form of plankton.
  • The microscopic veligers spread between bodies of water by live wells, bait buckets, bilge water, dive gear, waterfowl, and anything else that moves from one body of water to another.
  • Adult and juvenile mussels move on boat hulls, sea planes, docks, and buoys from one body of water to another.

Zebra mussel impacts

The presence of zebra mussels in Massachusetts presents a variety of ecological, recreational and economic concerns.

Ecological impacts:

  • Reduction in density levels of phyto- and zooplankton
  • Diversion of energy from pelagic community to benthic community
  • Water quality-increased water clarity/plants
  • Fisheries community
  • Biomagnification of toxics in the food web

Industrial impacts:

  • Raw water intakes such as those at drinking water, electric generation, and industrial facilities can become blocked with zebra mussels.

Recreational impacts:

  • Beaches may be impacted by the sharp shells that wash up in shallow areas, which can cut bathers and litter beaches.
  • Decomposition of mussels can also create obnoxious odors.
  • Zebra mussels attached to boat hulls can increase drag and reduce speed resulting in increased fuel consumption in motorized boats.
  • Mussels clog engine intake.

Help stop the spread of zebra mussels

What you can do to stop the spread of the invasive zebra mussel:

  • Inspect boat, trailer, and other recreational equipment that have been in contact with water.
  • Remove all mud, plants, or animals
  • Drain all bilge water, live wells, bait buckets, and all other water from your boat, engine and equipment.
  • Wash all parts of your boat, paddles, and other equipment that have been in contact with water. Do not allow wash water to flow in any water body or storm sewer.
  • Dry boats and trailers in sun for five days before launching into another body of water.

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