Invasive Species: Zebra Mussels

This is Passport to Texas.

Each year, a species of invasive aquatic mussels called zebra mussels has crept further south toward Texas.

Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries Manager Brian Van Zee says last year they found zebra mussels for the first time in Lake Texoma on the Oklahoma-Texas border.

Since that time they’ve spread pretty much throughout the entire reservoir. You can find them attached to just about any rocks or hard structures in Lake Texoma now.

Zebra mussels filter small organisms and plankton out of the water for food. So when there are millions of zebra mussels, they can make the lake look pretty clear.

Most people would say that’s kind of neat, it’s a good thing. But actually it’s harmful because it’s filtering out the phytoplankton and zooplankton out of the water column. And that zooplankton the basis of the aquatic food chain.

That means fish may not have enough food to survive. And that’s not all.

Another thing that zebra mussels do by increasing the water clarity is that it allows other invasive species such as hydrilla or something like that to grow either quicker or at deeper water levels because now you can get more sunlight.

To prevent the further spread of zebra mussels, Van Zee encourages boaters to clean their boats thoroughly each time they take them out of the water.

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That’s our show… we had research and writing help from Gretchen Mahan…the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration program supports our series… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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