For the past few years the Boundary Invasive Species Society has been taking water samples from Jewel Lake and Idabel Lake to check for the presence of invasive zebra and quagga mussels. We have also installed a substrate sampler in the lakes for the summer season.
The Christina Lake Stewardship Society checks Christina Lake. These invasive mussels are native to the Baltic region of Europe. They first came to Eastern North America in the 1980’s in the ballast water of ships from the Baltic Sea.
These mussels are found in three Eastern Canadian Provinces and at least 24 American states.
Unlike our native mussels, Zebra and Quagga mussels are smaller and attach to hard surfaces. They have been found at inspection stations attached to all sorts of watercraft, including kayaks. It is important that you stop at any and all watercraft inspection stations to ensure you watercraft is clean. You can also contact the Conservation Officers Service to request your boat be inspected. If you are importing a boat from a high-risk area you definitely want to get it inspected before it is launched in B.C. waters.
I have talked to several people from Ontario over the past few summers about the impacts of Zebra and Quagga mussels. One man said he had scars on his feet from the sharp shells on the beach. Another person said that everyone wears shoes to the beach and when they go swimming, so they don’t get their feet cut up on the shells. The native fish, mussels and aquatic plants have all been impacted.
The costs of dealing with invasive mussels in Ontario is almost $100 million a year. These invasive mussels have massive environmental and economic impacts and once established they are virtually impossible remove. Prevention is our only option.
Thanks to the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund and the Province of British Columbia for funding and administrating the Invasive Mussel Monitoring Grants. This grant enables us to monitor two lakes for these invasive aquatic mussels. We still have one more sample to send in from this years sampling but so far samples have all come back negative for Zebra and Quagga mussels.
Lets all keep working together to Protect Our Waters from invasive species! For more information on Zebra and Quagga mussels check out this link.
Jen Haynes is the Education Coordinator for the Boundary Invasive Species Society.