Aquatic Invasive Species.
Aquatic invasive species are animals, plants, or pathogens that are present in a waterbody outside of their natural range. Just like on land, aquatic invasives can quickly take over, as they do not have any natural predators to limit their population size. This unchecked growth poses a significant threat to our natural water bodies.
The impacts aquatic invasive species pose on invaded waterbodies can be far reaching. Such as:
Altering food webs and nutrient availability
Reducing habitat quality and causing biodiversity loss
Negatively impacting commercial, recreational, and First Nations fisheries
Damaging human infrastructure such as water intakes, hydroelectric stations, and docks
Harming recreational activity
Human activity is a primary reason why invasive aquatic species spread. The movement of species that are present in boat ballast water, plants and animals that cling to boats and other equipment, and the release of unwanted pets into waterbodies are all causes of aquatic invasive species. It is up to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, remember to always CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY and DON'T LET IT LOOSE!
Zebra + Quagga Mussels
(Dreissena polymorpha and D. bugensis)
Zebra and Quagga are freshwater mussels that have invaded the Great Lakes region of Canada and many of the eastern United States. They are much smaller than our native freshwater mussels, allowing them to easily clog up water intake valves, cover docks and floating structures, and cling to boats and paddle boards. If they were introduced to BC waterbodies, the impacts to our freshwater ecosystems would be devastating.
We depend on hydroelectric infrastructure for much of our energy production, the tiny mussels could wreak havoc with these systems, costing millions each year to keep them clear. They can have far reaching impacts across lake food webs, as they remove many of the small microscopic organisms that form the basis of the food chain for fish and other species. Not only is this devastating to our ecosystems but it could negatively impact commercial, recreational, and First Nations fisheries that are dependent on healthy fish populations. Invasive mussels can cover docks, floating surfaces, and beaches with their hard, sharp shells that easily can cut feet and hands, negatively impacting how people can safely use waterbodies.
If Zebra or Quagga mussels were introduced to BC waterbodies, they would cause significant environmental, economic, and social harm. And once the mussels have been introduced, they are almost impossible to get rid of!
Through the support of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and B.C Ministry of Environment, EKISC is helping to keep BC lakes free from invasive mussels. We monitor numerous high use lakes in the region throughout the summer to ensure early detection of this high priority species.
EKISC is committed to keeping invasive mussels out of BC waterbodies, and are grateful for the opportunity to work with the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and B.C Ministry of Environment on such an important initiative.
ALL sightings of Zebra/Quagga Mussels to RAPP:
Keep an eye open + report these Aquatic Invasive Species
What you can do!
Water-based recreation activities, like angling and boating can spread aquatic invasive species to new locations. Plants, animals, and microscopic creatures can cling to clothing, equipment, and boats. If our gear, clothing, and boats are not cleaned before entering or leaving an area, these species can be introduced into new bodies of water. In addition, the intentional or accidental release of these species from garden ponds and aquariums is a primary pathway of introduction.
Think ahead when planning an outing on the water. Ask yourself:
When entering and departing the water, is my boat, trailer, and other equipment clean of aquatic debris?
What are the local aquatic invasive plants I should be aware of?
If I spot an aquatic invasive plant, do I know who to alert?