Quagga mussels muck up the works in this boat motor - photo by Natalie Muth, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
With Memorial Day weekend coming up, officials are warning boaters to be cognizant of quagga mussels, a tiny, invasive clam-like species that is threatening to take over Utah’s waterways. Larry Dalton, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources says the state has already stopped several boats trying to launch on Lake Powell with the aggressive mussels attached.
“It is likely that those boats represented 100 percent chance that we would have been impacted in one of our waters, Lake Powell or somewhere else,” says Dalton. “So, we see live mussels on occasion, and we hate it when we see them.”
A DWR employee displays a quagga mussel - photo by Natalie Muth, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Dalton says the mussels not only threaten boats, but also Utah’s waterways and fish habitats. He says once they’ve found a home, they’re hard to get rid of because they reproduce rapidly.
“The water lines inside of a boat motor are tiny and they will plug up those water lines and damage a boat motor as well. The plankton that they take out of the quart of water is the same plankton that our fish eat so, they are literally stealing food right from the mouth of a fish,” says Dalton.
Transporting live mussels within Utah or across Utah’s borders into another state is against the law. Dalton recommends boaters drain and clean their boats after every trip using high temperature water.