U.S. Water News Online
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In just four years since the first
zebra mussels were found in El Dorado Reservoir near Wichita, Kan.,
the invasive species has multiplied so rapidly they are becoming a
safety hazard to swimmers and a potentially costly nuisance for
marinas and boat owners alike.
"They've pretty much covered our entire underwater habitat at El
Dorado, and they're very dense," said Jason Goeckler, acquatic
nuisance specialist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
At El Dorado, the mussels have formed dense colonies on underwater
rocks and trees. It is believed they entered the reservoir attached
to boat hulls or floating in live wells, bait buckets and bilge
Biologists are encouraging boaters to take precautions such as
thoroughly cleaning boats and trailers before moving between bodies
of water. They also encourage swimmers to wear foot protection and
fishermen to be prepared for some damaged fishing line.
"If you're swimming or wading and you don't wear protective
footwear, you'll cut your feet," Goeckler said. "If you're fishing
near the bottom after five casts or so, your line will be cut. Some
people are starting to use steel leaders."
Zebra mussels have caused billions of dollars in damage in the
Great Lakes and Missippi River basins. They are the size of a BB when
they first form shells and attach to a surface, and eventually grow
to about thumb size.
Goeckler said one liter of water from the lake averages 300 of the
mussels' larvae, and biologists are finding an average of 65,000
mature mussels per square meter.
He said the lake still is safe for visitors, but they need to take
Zebra mussels also were found last June in an arm of the Lake of
the Ozarks and are now being found throughout the lake in low
Signs are posted at most boat ramps in the region encouraging
boaters to clean and dry all gear before moving to a different lake
"We're very concerned about the possibility of accidentally
transferring them into other bodies of water," said Brian Canaday,
invasive species coordinator for the Missouri Department of
Scientists have not found a way to eliminate mussels from large
lakes or rivers after they have become established.
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