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Why All The Fuss About Zebra Mussels in Texoma?

Zebra Mussels in Lake Texoma
Flickr

We’ve all heard the ads here in Texoma… “Zebra Mussel Invasion!” All boaters are required to empty out any on-board water and dry their boats before they can put it back into the water.  I admit, until the somewhat vague and scary spots started airing on the radio station, I had no idea that we should be worried about mussels, much less the zebra variety.

So, as is often the case when I am board at work, I started googling Zebra Mussels.  OMG! If you trust websites like texasinvasives.org, apparently the little bitty Zebra Mussel was what the Mayans were talking about when discussing 2012 as the end of the world.

Here’s the short version of the problem:

In spite of their small size (often no bigger than a penny) zebra mussels cause far-

Zebra Mussel Sign at Lake Texoma
Flickr/Creative Commons

reaching damage to water structures and native ecosystems. Called the “most troublesome freshwater biofouling organism in North America” by U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, they attach to manmade structures, particularly pipelines, impeding water movement through hydroelectric turbines and intake structures for drinking water and irrigation systems. They also negatively impact aquatic ecosystems by harming native organisms. In huge numbers, they out-compete other filter feeders, starving them. They adhere to all hard surfaces, including the shells of native mussels, turtles, and crustaceans. In the Midwest they have destroyed boat engines, fouled beaches, and caused damage to boat ramps and docks. Zebra mussel fecal material may also contribute to taste and odor problems in drinking water sources.

Ewwww… maybe that’s why our water tastes funky.  I don’t even want to think about it.  The point is, this is a big deal, not just for people who use the lakes for boating, fishing, and what have you, but for us ALL since, let’s face it… all of our water comes from the lakes.

Zebra Mussels have already invaded Lake Texoma, and, in no time at all could migrate, without people like you and me being very careful, to all of the other freshwater sources in the state of Texas and beyond.  I for one, don’t want to see, or taste that happening!

Here are a couple of photos of Zebra Mussels attached to things:

Zebra Mussels on Dock
Zebra Mussels on Dock (flickr/Gene Wilburn)
Zebra Mussels in a Pipe
Zebra Mussels in a Pipe (flickr/Gemma Grace)

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