Discover Nature this week as you help to stop one of Missouri’s Most Unwanted invasive species, the zebra mussel.
Zebra mussels are fingernail-sized, black-and-white striped mollusks native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia. Over the next several decades, zebra mussels could spread to other freshwater locations in Missouri and throughout North America.
You can help prevent the spread of zebra mussels by observing the following "clean boating" suggestions when transporting your boat.
First, thoroughly inspect your boat and trailer. Scrape off and trash any suspected mussels, however small. Also, remove all water weeds hanging from the boat or trailer. Drain all the water from the boat, specifically from the motor, livewell, bilge and transom wells.
Throw leftover bait in the trash before you leave an area. Leftover live aquatic bait that has contacted infested waters should not be taken to uninfested waters.
When you get home thoroughly rinse every inch of your boat; use a hard spray from a garden hose or tow the boat through a do-it-yourself carwash and use the high pressure hot water to "de-mussel" your boat. Don’t use chlorine bleach or other environmentally unsound washing solutions.
Boats, motors and trailers should be allowed to dry thoroughly in the sun for at least five days before boating again.
When in infested waters, the best way to keep a hull mussel-free is to run the boat frequently (small juvenile mussels are quite soft and are scoured off the hull at high speeds).
On boats which remain in the water, zebra mussels can attach to drive units, cover or enter water intakes, and clog, overheat and destroy the engine.
Lastly, learn what these invasive creatures look like. If you suspect a new infestation of an exotic plant or animal, report it to your natural resource agency.