Boat inspection keeps invasive zebra mussels out of lake

·2 min read

Jul. 30—SOCIAL CIRCLE — For the second time in just over one year, Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division staff responded to a citizen inquiry about invasive zebra mussels found attached to a vessel prior to its launch into Lake Lanier.

"We are grateful for the keen eye of this particular boat owner, and we extend thanks to him for being observant and contacting WRD in a timely manner," WRD Aquatic Nuisance Species Program Manager Jim Page said. "Zebra mussels pose a significant ecological and economic risk to our state so we encourage boaters to follow this lead and thoroughly inspect your boat, trailer and gear for any unwanted 'hitchhikers' prior to use in any Georgia waters, and always contact your local WRD office should you have questions."

Georgia officials were alerted after a boat owner observed a mysterious mussel attached to the motor of his recently purchased vessel. The boat owner contacted the local WRD office and through further inspection, found out the mystery species was zebra mussels. Thankfully, the discovery was made prior to the vessel being launched into Lake Lanier. Though the vessel has since been thoroughly decontaminated, it serves as a reminder to all boaters to thoroughly inspect their vessels prior to launching into any of Georgia's waters.

Zebra mussels cause millions of dollars in damage to boats and water intake pipes while creating ecological harm to native mussels and other aquatic biota. As such, WRD officials are actively seeking the help of the public to maximize efforts to prevent the introduction and establishment of these destructive mussels in our state. One such prevention technique is for boaters to participate in the national Clean, Drain, Dry initiative, which encourages boaters to properly decontaminate their boats prior to relaunching them into another waterbody.

"Currently, there is not a known established population of zebra mussels in Georgia state waters, and we are hopeful that with the public's help that we can keep that streak going," Page said.

For more information on zebra mussels, other invasive species, and further tips, visit GeorgiaWildlife.com/ans.