Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists found young zebra mussels attached to buoys off Havre de Grace on December 3. DNR is asking boaters and anglers to be on the lookout for this harmful, invasive mussel.
The biologists collected 20 live zebra mussels attached to the concrete anchor blocks for three channel marker buoys. DNR discovered the mussels when Captain Shawn Orr and the crew of DNR’s A.V. Sandusky pulled the buoys from the water for cleaning and winter storage.
“We know that these mussels are from this year’s spawn since these buoys and anchors were deployed this spring,” said Matt Ashton, a DNR biologist and mussel expert who helped collect the mussels. “We plan to check these and other buoys every fall, as part of DNR’s limited zebra mussel monitoring effort in the upper Bay area.”
Boaters, anglers and others who use the lower Susquehanna River and upper Bay can help prevent these harmful zebra mussels from spreading to other Maryland waters by taking the following precautions before launching and leaving the area:
- Remove all aquatic plants and mud from boats, motors, and trailers; and put the debris in trash containers.
- Drain river water from boat motors, bilges, live wells, bait buckets and coolers before leaving, to prevent these aquatic hitchhikers from riding along.
- Dispose of unused live bait on shore, far from the river or Bay or in trash containers.
- Rinse boats, motors, trailers, live wells, bait buckets, coolers and scuba gear with high pressure or hot water between trips to different water bodies.
- Dry everything at least two days (preferably five days) between outings.
- Limit boating from place to place ─ particularly between the Susquehanna and upper Bay to other water bodies in Maryland ─ where zebra mussels haven’t invaded.
DNR asks that people who live and work on the water keep an eye out for zebra mussels and call 410-260-8615 if they find anything suspicious. More information on this invasive species is available here.
The non-native and invasive zebra mussel was first found in Maryland in late 2008 at two locations in the Susquehanna River: the Conowingo Dam and further upstream at Glen Cove Marina, Harford County. Sporadic sightings since then indicate establishment of a zebra mussel population in the lower river and downstream dispersal, but no apparent rapid increase in abundance.
“In their wake, zebra mussels cause economic damages in the billions of dollars, killing imperiled native freshwater mussels, and disrupting aquatic ecosystems,” said Ron Klauda, DNR biologist who helped collect the mussels. “We’d rather not have them in Maryland waters, but they’re now established in the Susquehanna. So far, that’s the only place in the State where we’re convinced they’ve taken hold. We’re asking our boaters and anglers to be vigilant and help prevent their spread to other waters.”