Zebra Mussels Have Invaded Austin’s Lake Travis

Central Texas’ lake ecosystems are at risk due to the rapid spread of this invasive aquatic species.

By Michael MarksJune 28, 2017 7:28 am| ,

Zebra mussels, destructive freshwater mollusks, have invaded Lake Travis.

And there’s no turning back, says Monica McGarrity, the aquatic invasive species biologist at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The only option is damage control.

“Once they’re in a lake there’s virtually nothing that can be done other than to try to minimize the impact,” McGarrity says. “What folks can do is clean, drain and dry their boats.”

She says the mussels are “sneaky,” and may be hiding in boaters’ anchors and gears. The aquatic creature’s shell is usually about the size of a fingernail, and the resilient free-swimming larvae, which are also able to cause infestation, are microscopic.

“We want to stress that mussels being found in Lake Travis, it’s not the end of the world,” McGarrity says. “But it is going to have some really serious impacts.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– How you’re transferring zebra mussels without knowing it

– How the creatures impact aquatic life and infrastructures

– What their presence means for Texans heading to the lakes this summer

 

Written by Lila Weatherly