A Look Beneath the Great Lakes

In regards to the article, a Zebra Mussel is a small, non-native mussel originally found in Russia. This specific type of animal was transported to North America and was colonized in parts of Lake St. Clair. According to the text, in less than 10 years, zebra mussels spread to all five Great Lakes and into the Mississippi, Tennessee, Hudson, and Ohio River Basins. You can find a lot of zebra mussels in the waters of the Great Lakes. Additionally, Zebra mussels are invaders of the Great Lakes because they live and feed in many different aquatic habitats. A lot of these invaders can be easily moved throughout bodies of water and can frequently cling to hard objects that are stationary.

Zebra Mussels pose a problem for the Great Lakes, and any lake for that matter. Zebra Mussels can be exterminated but that entails putting chemicals into the body of water to poison them. This wouldn’t be something that would beneficial because it would then severely harm the water and the other life in it. There is an economic impact and an ecological impact for Zebra Mussels. The economic impact proposes that adult zebra mussels colonize on all types of living and non-living surfaces, they even attach to each other. According to the text, there have been instances where different companies have had to retool their water-intake systems because they would be infested with zebra mussels in the water-intake pipelines. This can be very cost-effective and have an impact on the environment.  Reversely, zebra mussels can positively impact the Great Lakes ecosystems. The reason being, several fish, birds, and other animals eat young and adult zebra mussels. Zebra mussels can be a harmful yet provides positivity as well.

According to the text, it is almost impossible to remove/prevent zebra mussels completely from any lake or river. They have a very high spreading rate and human activities such as boating make the chance of bringing these types of specimens into inland higher.  The only way you can reduce something like this from happening and bringing specimens from other inland lakes and contaminating the water is to thoroughly clean off boats and trailers, etc.

For example, we have a lake house near Lake Michigan and we keep our boat there. They usually have an attendant at the boat launch that sprays it down before and after we put our boat in the water/take it out. This helps so that the boat doesn’t bring other contaminated specimens into the Great Lakes for example, Zebra Mussels.

http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/main.php?content=research_invasive_zebramussel&title=Invasive%20Invertebrates0&menu=research_invasive_i

http://seagrant.gso.uri.edu/factsheets/zebra_mussel.html

Posted By: Lindsay Cattell

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4 responses

  1. I agree when you say that zebra mussles are a problem. They are annoying to have in the lakes, and it is a problem that they are spreading so quickly. It is scary to know that there isn’t really much you can do about it. I wish everyone knew that they are spreading so quickly so that they would know to clean off their boats and trailers thoroughly.

    India Houston

  2. I am familiar with the zebra mussels problem going on in Michigan and I really liked your thoughts. I think its interesting to think that we always think pollutants are chemicals that humans are putting into the water but in this case it is not. The situation here is so unique in the fact that it is a living organism that is the pollutant. It would be interesting to see what things they are doing to remove and fight this zebra mussel invasion.

    Michael Burkett

  3. I agree that these organisms are a huge issue. My family has a cottage on a lake up north and I cut my feet on these guys every year! I also find them attached to clam shells all over which is probably a huge problem for the clams as well. I know that you said there wasn’t much that can be done to get rid of them completely but I wonder if there is something that can slow down the population growth.
    -Alyssa Kocis

  4. Sean Steinberg | Reply

    I, too, agree that the spread of this invasive species into our Great Lakes, rivers, and streams. Although they are incredibly hard to control and almost impossible to to completely exterminate from out lakes and rivers, you did mention some good ideas, such as thoroughly cleaning off boats and ship bottoms to prevent worse spreading inland, which is probably the most effective way for time being. Also, how you mentioned the retooling of pipelines and water pipes. As this has been happening for many years now, it is probably an issue that needs to be looked at for the sake of the native species living in the waters.

    Sean Steinberg

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