Zebra Mussels on the Move in Texas

As with terrestrial invasive species, aquatic invasive species can be easily introduced by our own inadvertent actions. It's important to follow all national, state and local regulations to do our part to stop the spread.

How can you help?

Three simple words. Clean. Drain. Dry.

The Great Lakes account for approximately 80 percent of our continent's surface fresh water. It's a vast water system with tendrils through much of the country. The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, was first observed in a Michigan area lake in 1988, and it now calls much of the large water system home.

As of March 2020 zebra mussels had made significant forays into Texas, with confirmed infestations in at least 19 lakes in five major river basins of the state.  

So why is that such a big deal? Their rate of spread is incredibly fast and their biology makes them particularly problematic. They can stick to just about any surface or substrate, permanently securing themselves to pipes, boats, trailers and buoys. They can sink navigational buoys, damage boat hulls and destroy water systems. Major cities have been affected as infestations restrict water flow in pipes. Austin's water supply made national headlines in 2019 as decaying zebra mussels caused system-wide odor in its potable water.

The thing about zebra mussels is that they are easy to accidentally move. In their free-floating larval stage they can float for up to a month in ballast water. Because of this and their ability to attach to the surface of a boat or boat trailer, boat movement is a primary vector for moving them from one body of water to another. 

As we head into Memorial Day weekend, with our natural propensity to get out on Texas' lakes and rivers, it's critical for all boaters to Clean, Drain and Dry their boat, trailer and equipment.

More reading on the Zebra Mussel in Texas:

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