by Alicia Pimental
December 01, 2008
Zebra mussels have been found for the first time in the Maryland portion of the Susquehanna River, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Zebra mussels are small, invasive freshwater mussels native to the Caspian Sea. As zebra mussels grow, they encrust boat bottoms and clog municipal drinking water systems and power plant intakes. A study by New York Sea Grant showed that zebra mussels cost the power industry $3.1 billion from 1993-1999.
In addition to economic losses, zebra mussels cause ecological damage by killing native mussels and filtering too much plankton from the water. The presence of zebra mussels has also been linked to declining duck populations.
While zebra mussels spread rapidly with natural river currents, they are most often transferred between water bodies by humans. According to DNR, recreational boaters can unknowingly carry zebra mussel larvae in their bilge, minnow buckets or on trailers.
Boaters can help stop zebra mussels from spreading to other rivers and lakes by:
- Washing down boat hulls.
- Cleaning bilges.
- Removing aquatic vegetation from props and trailers.
- Limiting transfer of boats from one water body to another, particularly from the Susquehanna River to other areas.
Read more from DNR about zebra mussels in the lower Susquehanna River.