DNR, watersheds committed to taking on zebra mussels

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An anchor is covered in zebra mussels after being pulled from Lake Minnetonka. (Submitted photo)

An anchor is covered in zebra mussels after being pulled from Lake Minnetonka. (Submitted photo)

They’ll attach to just about anything they can get a grip on and they don’t care who it hurts -whether that’s a boat, a child’s foot or the entire food chain. Zebra mussels have been a part of the Lake Minnetonka ecosystem since 2010. The small mussel is named for it’s striped outer shell and since its introduction to Lake Minnetonka seven years ago, it’s taken a toll on native populations.

According to Eric Fieldseth from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, the tiny mollusk has killed off all the native mussels in Lake Minnetonka. He and researchers from the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center are working on method to stop the same thing from happening elsewhere and it all starts with the microscopic, baby mussels.

“When you look at them in the lab they just kind of flutter around,” said MAISRC Zebra Mussel Expert Michael McCartney. “They really are beautiful little animals.”

But to McCartney, they’re even more beautiful dead. Veligers are the infant stage of zebra mussels. They spend about two to three weeks floating through the water before they anchor to an object and grow into adult mussels. According to McCartney, these veligers could be the key to controlling the species’ spread. He, his staff and his students have spent hours hovering over microscopes checking to see if the tiny, beautiful creatures have died yet. They spent last year working on a copper-compound that they are now using in the western bays of Lake Minnetonka to try and kill of the mussels before they mature.

Continue reading this Sun Patriot story.


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