Invasive Mussells

Just got home from a trip to Laughlin NV and I did some paddling on the Colorado River near the hotel and up on Lake Mohave this morning. At the launch point there were lots of signs warning to wash and dry your boat and get all water out before leaving because of Cobra Mussells. I toweled off my boat, it was dry when I got home. I just finished washing it, inside and out with a bleach solution. Same with my paddles and I dipped my gear into a fresh bleach solution and it is drying outside. I am soaking my booties in bleach and will wash my neoprene pants and tops in a cold water bleach solution.

Anything elsi I need to do. Next time I paddle will be Friday in the ocean. Should I use a different boat? How long should I wait before taking the boat I used in the river?

Thanks. Don’t whant to be Typhoid Mary or a Mussell Tonto

I think you mean Zebra mussels. I’m not aware of a problem with a species called cobra. Google “zebra and quagga mussels” and you should find lots of info.

Here’s a quick summary - they are small mussels with microscopic sized offspring that reproduce very rapidly and can overwhelm things we like, like beaches and boat motors and dam turbines, etc. Because the offspring are so tiny they can stow away on boats and as boats are moved from one waterbody to another, the offspring grow up and breed rapidly and take over that water also.

They’ve already infected most of the U.S., starting in the Great Lakes and spreading down the Mississippi River and up all it’s tributaries. They were just spotted for the first time in 2008 in the Colorado River and Pueblo Reservoir. Colorado state officials have launched a massive project to prevent the spread to other state waterways. It’s admirable, but probably doomed, since theoretically even a wading bird could start an infection.

Still, anybody who visits their remaining uncontaminated water spots from infected areas should respect their efforts and co-operate. And remember, the mussels not only can hide in boats, but in anything that contacts the water - including your shoes, shorts, PFD, etc. So be sure to wash and treat all this other stuff too, not just the boat.

By the way, if your next stop was the ocean, I don’t think there was any point to wash. ZMs are freshwater so ocean water probably kills the microscopic babies that you might carry, and if it doesn’t kill them, then they’re already there.

The important thing to remember is to wash before entering the clean areas, like some of colorado’s lakes and streams.

your right

– Last Updated: Feb-24-09 9:53 PM EST –

Its posted on all the outhouses at large lakes and reservoirs when I go to kayak. It says to report them immediatly if seen.

I did not know about them sticking to the hull, and I havent been washing my kayak. I will be sure to next time. Thanks for the tip.

no worries if going to/from ocean
In fact one of the suggested ways of cleaning the mussels is to use salt water (maybe stronger than the ocean, but still salt water kills them). But still good to clean in case some survive somehow before your next trip to fresh water.

salt water
I did some reading in the spring on the subject, when the local water district put draconian restrictions on access to the reservoirs in an attempt to avoid the spread. If I remember correctly, very little salt is required to kill the critters, a lower level than is considered safe to drink. Any ocean type salt water will dust them off quickly.

Dry time
They cant survive more than 2 weeks on a dry boat. Last year I let the boats we were taking on our summer trip dry for more than 2 weeks after washing them with a vinegar solution. All the other gear was washed before leaving and had considerable dry time. The power boats have a lot of places that can stay wet for long periods of time. It takes about a day to thoroughly clean a kayak and 2 days to thoroughly clean a bass boat with all its wells. How may really do that? How many boaters even flush out their bilge. Illegal dumping of bilge water is the likely culprit for the original infestation in the Great Lakes.

The whole Colorado river from Mead down is infested. We had a very low shad population this year and the mussels may be eating the shads food. The striper fishing has been poor as a result.

I salute you.

– Last Updated: Feb-25-09 11:43 AM EST –

Invasive species make resource management even more difficult. It is bad enough that invasives arrived mostly due to lack of knowledge or laziness. But to be informed and spread them is _______(you fill in the blank).

Afterall, we love the waterways we paddle. We, more than anyone, should want to protect them. (Sorry fellow choir members.) You went above and beyond and that is really great. Thank you.

Here in WA
the state routinely does zebra mussel “emphasis” patrols, which means game wardens will check all of the busy ramps, stop people who are about to launch , and look for evidence of the culprits. Anyone found with them gets a ticket.

For people who willfully violate these local laws by, say, bringing their boat from Colorado and launching it here because they just don’t care, think it’s a futile effort to wash their boat, ignore the signs, or whatever, there’s an invesive species provision under the Lacey Act. This law can immediately escalate any state or local wildlife violation to a federal one - even for something as trivial as not wanting to wash your boat.

I’d sure rather use salt water than
bleach water. Chlorine damages float bags, neoprene booties, etc.

Haven’t seen much about the issue in Georgia, but I will be going west this summer, and will have to think of ways to wash the boat and gear with salt water.

Just a note
Chlorine is not good for neoprene… NRS sells a detergent specific for neoprene. Try it…