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If Only We Could Communicate With Zebra Mussels

The Zebra Mussel is an invasive species clogging up American waterways.

Above you see a picture of a Zebra Mussel.

An excellent book about invasive species is called Out Of Eden–An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion by Alan Burdick.

Here is an overview of the Zebra Mussel issue and below is a portion of that overview– 

A small freshwater mollusk called the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), has been steadily invading America’s rivers and lakes. Zebra mussels originated in the Balkans, Poland, and the former Soviet Union. They first appeared in North America in 1988 in Lake St. Clair, a small water body connecting Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Biologists believe the zebra mussels were picked up in a freshwater European port in the ballast water of a ship and were later discharged into the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair.

Zebra mussels get their name from the striped pattern of their shells, though not all shells bear this pattern. They’re usually about fingernail size but can grow to a maximum length of nearly 2 inches. Zebra mussels live 4 to 5 years and inhabit fresh water at depths of 6 to 24 feet. A female zebra mussel begins to reproduce at 2 years of age, and produces between 30,000 and 1 million eggs per year. About two percent of zebra mussels reach adulthood.

Young zebra mussels are small and free swimming, and can be easily spread by water currents. Older zebra mussels attach themselves to hard surfaces by an external organ called a byssus, which consists of many threads. The mussels may attach to boats, pilings, water-intake pipes, and other hard surfaces, as well as to crayfish, turtles, other zebra mussels, and native mollusks. While zebra mussels can attach themselves securely, they may also move, and can reattach themselves easily if dislodged by storms.

Zebra mussels upset ecosystems, threaten native wildlife, damage structures, and cause other serious problems. Millions of dollars are spent each year in attempting to control these small but numerous mollusks.

Below is a photo of many Zebra Mussels in Lake Michigan.

Here is information about Zebra Mussels in the Great Lakes region.

Here is Sea Grant’s National Aquatic Nuisance Species Clearinghouse.

In the early 1990’s, I took a tour of the main plant of the Cincinnati Waterworks.

The man giving the tour, an official with the water works, talked about the threat of Zebra Mussels plugging up the water intake pipes.

I said to him ” If only we could communicate with them.”

I thought it was a funny enough line.

The waterworks man did not appear to think it was funny. 

Here is the link to the Cincinnati Waterworks. You can click under features on the right of homepage for a history of the waterworks.

April 12, 2008 Posted by | Books, Cincinnati | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Infestation?!—Zebra Mussel Found In Lake Texoma

The Texas Parks And Wildlife Department reports that a single Zebra Mussel has been found in Lake Texoma.

One Zebra Mussel can lead to millions of Zebra Mussels and to big trouble. They started in Russia and have spread throughout the world clogging up pipes and valves and sticking to things. Below you see a picture from Lake Michigan of  just what I’m saying.

Lake Texoma, a big reservoir, is partially in Texas and partially in Oklahoma.

From the TPWD release—For the fifth time in four years, an alert citizen has assisted Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) in their efforts to keep zebra mussels from invading Lake Texoma. On April 3 Brent Taylor, an employee of a private landowner on the south shore of Lake Texoma, reported to TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist Bruce Hysmith that he had found a suspected zebra mussel on a boathouse communication line under water. The find marks the first time the dangerous exotic species has been found living in Lake Texoma. It is known to occur at several other sites in Oklahoma. TPWD personnel confirmed the identification and inspected the boathouse but found no additional specimens. Hysmith immediately notified the local U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Tishomingo, Oklahoma; local game wardens and area marinas to be on the alert.

Here is the full release.

I’ve written about zebra mussels before at this blog. Please click here for some more information and links on this topic.

Below is a picture of Lake Texoma and the Oklahoma shoreline side of the lake. I know it looks like any other lake in that picture, but I’m certain it is a nice place to visit.  Many people make use of the lake.

Lake Texoma is in a very Republican part of the country. Yet the lake was built by the Army Corps of Engineers and it will be government taking a lead role in fighting the further infestation of the lake by Zebra Mussels.

File:Lake Texoma.JPG

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Texas | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I’m Driving To Galveston Blindfolded, Using Dolphin-Like Echolocation To Navigate

I’m going to drive 50 miles south today to take a walk along the Gulf of Mexico in fabulous Galveston, Texas.

In an effort to bond with dolphins in Galveston Bay, I’m going to blindfold myself and drive to Galveston using echolocation. Echolocation is one way dolphins find fish in murky waters. 

While I don’t have the dolphin anatomy you see in the above illustration, I’ve been practicing some of the skills involved. Just a few weeks ago, I shut my eyes and walked successfully from the dinner table to the couch. At that point I had to open my eyes because I wanted to watch the TV.

Having mastered that walk, I feel I’m now ready for the blindfolded drive to Galveston. I’m hoping at some point to be able to communicate with dolphins. (Please click here for my post on commuincating with zebra mussels.)

Better that I speak to the dolphins— I’m also practicing my sonar clicks— than somebody with a more evil plan.

Once reaching Galveston, I’ll be keeping my eyes open in case I see a mermaid. I’ll have my digital camera because blog traffic would spike if I could get a picture of a mermaid.

August 1, 2008 Posted by | Galveston, Sea Life | , , , , | 2 Comments