Both Zebra and quagga mussels are native to the Black Sea in Eurasia and were first detected in the Great Lakes in 1988; likely brought in through the ballasts of ocean container ships . They both have the capability to densely colonize hard and soft surfaces of lake bottoms. Quagga mussels tends to inhabit deeper waters than zebra mussels. Both mussels can have significant impacts on lake ecosystems!
Why are they of concern?
- Zebra and quagga mussels filter lake water to the point where there is limited food for native filter feeders such as invertebrates that support our lake food chain. This could cause the Walleye and Pike populations in our lake to diminish if they cannot adapt to the new ecosystem.
- Intense filtering increases water clarity, allowing sunlight to reach lower depths increasing the growth of filamentous green algae which can wash up to rot on local shorelines.
- Mussel waste can host botulism bacteria which can accumulate in the food chain resulting in mass die-offs of fish eating birds.
- Colonization of water-intake piping structures at water treatment plants results in clogging and expensive remedial measures.
What do they look like?
What can I do to prevent Invasive Mussels from entering Saskatchewan’s Lakes?
Remember to practice: Clean, Drain, Dry
If you are:
- Returning home from out of province
- Visiting from out of province
- Moving between waters within Saskatchewan
Please follow these important steps to help protect Saskatchewan waters from invasive species:
Clean and inspect the watercraft, trailer, equipment and all gear that made contact with the water.
- Remove all visible plants, animals and mud. Scrub/scrape grainy surfaces that feel like sandpaper, as this could be young mussels too small to see.
- Wash, scrub or rinse using high pressure, hot tap water preferably 50C (120F) – away from storm drains, ditches and waterways.
- Inspect the watercraft, trailer and vehicle.
Drain all on-board water from the motor, live well, bilge, and ballast tanks.
- Flush with hot tap water away from storm drains, ditches and waterways.
- Leave plugs out during transport and tilt watercraft when stored to allow the bilge to both drain and dry.
Dry your watercraft, equipment and all related gear completely, preferably for at least five days while leaving compartments open to dry.
(Government of Saskatchewan)
What did WUQWATR do to help?
WUQWATR ran a monitoring program for several years every summer, sampling June, July and August. Our staff have established monitoring stations in the following locations:
- Last Mountain Lake
- Buffalo Pound Lake
- Wascana Lake
- Humboldt Lake
- Little Manitou Lake
- Lovering Lake
- Arm Lake
The Saskatchewan Association of Watersheds now coordinates testing across the province. Preventative monitoring is important to make quick decisive action if they are found.
Thank you to the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund and Invasive Species Centre for providing the funding to make this sampling possible.