Zebra Mussels Take Over Boats

9 years 4 weeks 2 days ago November 05, 2007 Nov 5, 2007 Monday, November 05 2007 Monday, November 05, 2007 9:52:43 PM CST in News

Boaters are now Missouri's greatest line of defense against what could become a sharp-shelled, stinky, nuisance.

Missouri Department of Conservation officials say they're not happy with the October zebra mussel find in Missouri's lower Osage River.

"'Uh oh,' I said. 'I hope these aren't what I think they are.' We kinda looked at each other, and I picked 'em up and took them here to Steve McMurray the mussel biologist," said resource assistant Jarad Milligan.

And MDC Resource Scientist Stephen McMurray confirmed the find. He says the adult thumbnail-sized mussels cling to any hard surface, and clog water intakes.

"They attach to the pipes and anything hard that's under the water. Then they, themselves, become something hard and keep attaching to each other and the pipes until eventually they just clog it up," explained McMurray.

The mussels reproduce at rapid rates and can quickly dominate waterways. MDC officials say that boaters can play a key role in slowing that process. They should always check their boats, but they're not always easy to find.

"Smaller juvenile zebra mussels are not gonna be visible to the unaided eye. You're not gonna be able to see them," explained McMurray. He says if you run your hand along the hall, and it feels scratchy like sandpaper, your boat could be swamped with microscopic zebra mussels.

MDC urges boaters to inspect their motors and trim plates to rinse their boats with hot power-jetted water. They also urge to let boats sit in the sun for 3 to 5 days before entering another lake or river.

Milligan says if boaters find zebra mussels on their boats they should immediately contact Missouri Department of Conservation.

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