Minnesota’s zebra mussel infestation continues to rise with the discovery of thousands of zebra mussels infesting lakes across the state, which were first discovered during the fall of last year and have since grown in number.
The area of Forest Lake, located in Washington County, is a renowned boating and fishing sanctuary and according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the waters are infested and have subsequently been declared so as part of preventative measures intended to minimize the risk of infestation elsewhere. The department confirmed the declaration on Friday, the Star Tribune reported.
The lake was inspected by biologists after a visitor found a zebra mussel on a rock in the area and reported their findings to officials for further investigation. It is thought that the population is now “well established” and already reproducing, according to the Duluth News Tribune.
Thus far, officials have decided against treating the lake, as inspectors will be sent to the area to monitor the influence and effects of the mussels prior to a course of action being decided upon
Just under 200 lakes in the Minnesota area are thought to be contaminated with zebra mussels according to Heidi Wolf, the DNR’s invasive species unit supervisor.
The Forest Lake infestation is the fourth confirmed infestation of 2015, which includes the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers as well as the Minnetonka and Mille Lacs lakes — all of which are reportedly rife with zebra mussels.
A female zebra mussel is able to lay 500,000 eggs in a given year and once the eggs hatch, they form larvae which attach to rocks, boats and other surfaces. They flourish in the appropriate conditions and are only 1.5 inches in size.
The mussels are known to be a hazard for visitors who are liable to tread on their sharp exteriors. In addition, the mussels also devour plankton which in turns deprives other species of vital nutrients. And if that wasn’t enough to be labeled a nuisance, they’re also prone to clogging water pipes.
At the moment, less than five percent of Minnesota’s lakes are contaminated.
Boaters are urged to exercise caution and to avoid spreading contaminated water. In order to avoid further contamination, boaters are advised to remove drain plugs from boats, throw away unused bait rather than leave it behind in the water where the mussels can feed on it, and to leave boats dry and out of the water for five days before moving them to a new body of water.
Zebra mussels aren’t the only marine life flourishing lately, as hundreds of whales were recently sighted in the San Francisco area, which has subsequently warranted a boating warning from state officials.