GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) – Submerged near a Lake Grapevine marina, the cinder block “traps” are nothing fancy—but, biologists say the traps will sound a critical alarm about the approach of destructive zebra mussels.
“Marinas have a lot of boats around them,” explains Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologist Rafe Brock. “We figure that’s going to be the main place where they first get started.”
First detected in Lake Texoma in 2009, the mussels are rapidly reproducing parasites with the potential to clog expensive water pipelines. Experts say the mussels also disrupt the sport fishing food chain by stealing nutrients from the prey species. There is little recourse after mussels infect a lake, so boaters are encouraged to take the threat seriously and be vigilant.
“Zebra mussels, when they reproduce, their larvae are microscopic and they live in water,” says Brock, “so if you have water from the lake in your boat, there’s a chance you could take it to another lake and establish a population there So we just encourage people to clean, drain, and dry your boat.”
Fishing guide Don Novak earns his living on area lakes, so he is careful to keep mussels from hitching a ride to another lake—and he’s encouraging other boaters to do the same.
“You need to take it to a car wash, make sure you run the hot cycle on both the trailer, all of your compartments and on the boat,” says Novak. “Now, you can also just let the boat sit for about a week or so after it’s been cleaned and dried, that’ll get rid of them, too.”
But, experts would rather everyone work to keep them out—for as long as possible.
“Today, luckily we found no adults,” says Brock after checking traps at Lake Grapevine. “No adults today, thank goodness.”
That is good news, today. But, experts also admit, that the mussels will still likely win the war.
“You’re not going to really stop these things,” says Brock. “They’re going to pretty much be spread all throughout the state in several years to a decade, maybe. However, we just try to be diligent, tell people to just clean, drain and dry your boat.”
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