ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Zebra Mussels/Mollusk are They a Threat to "Our Ecosystem"?

Updated on January 1, 2017

What are mollusk?

Tiny Mollusk, (Dreissena polymorpha), better known as zebra mussels have invaded the streams, rivers and fresh water lakes of the United States of America and they have established a foot hold in some of our lakes here in Texas.

Zebra mussels encrust a rusty junk car

Zebra mussels encrust an old junk car
Zebra mussels encrust an old junk car | Source

The acidic excrement of the freshwater mollusk, zebra mussel, may eat away at the protective coating on the pipelines, but it is a question of when not if, this pipeline will rupture. (Huff Post)

Even underwater pipelines are is danger from these mussels

A 62 year old “OIL” pipeline called Line 5, is owned by the Canadian energy company Enbridge has become encrusted with these zebra mussels. (See: Samantha Lachman) Posted: 05/22/2015 7:35 am EDT Updated: 06/01/2015 2:59 am EDT

The acidic excrement of the freshwater mollusk, zebra mussel, may eat away at the protective coating on the pipelines, but it is a question of when not if, this pipeline will rupture. (Huff Post)

A newer Enbridge pipeline ruptured in 2010, spilling 1 million gallons of heavy crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. The cleanup is still ongoing. Could the rupture of his pipeline have been caused by the excrement of the zebra mussel?

Invertebrate animals

The mollusks are invertebrate animals (without a vertebral column in their anatomy) and the zebra mussels are one of the approximate 85,000 extant species.

The larvae (called veligers,) of the zebra mussel are microscopic in size allowing easy transport from water-way to water-way. And can be carried by currents from a network of streams and lakes to other streams and lakes. Or by unknowing boaters.

Adult zebra mussels grow from fingernail size up to two inches, and live in freshwater up to 24 feet deep. The life span of the zebra mussel is 4 to 5 years.

The adult female zebra mussel can lay up to 1 million eggs a year from the age of two. But, only two percent of the vilgers will reach adulthood. (Two percent of 1 million is still a scary number,) and they attach themselves to any hard surface by threads from an external organ called a byssus, which is another way they can be transported from one lake to another. Zebra mussels attach themselves to other zebra mussels, to crayfish, turtles as well as pilings, boats, and water intake pipes.

Where did they originate from?

The zebra mussels are believed to have originated originally from the former Soviet Union, Poland and the Balkans, and then spread westward to the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

When and where were they discovered in the United States?

Zebra mussels were first discovered in Lake St. Clair on the Canadian side, in-between, Lake Erie and Lake Huron in 1988. It is believed the zebra mussels vilgers to have been discharged from the ballast water of a ship from a European freshwater port where the zebra mussel vilgers were picked up.


How is that a big deal?

It is a big deal because; beaches could be forced to close because of the stench of dead zebra mussels, and the danger of being cut by the sharp mussels’ shells.

If millions of zebra mussels filter a quart of water per day each, then a whole lake could be filtered in one day. And the food and algae for the zebra mussels would cause a decrease in the food for other native larval fish and other species, in that the zebra mussels would cause a decrease in the population of birds, native fish and native mullusks.

It is a big deal because; zebra mussels colonize and if they colonize water intake pipes, and could restrict the flow of fresh water to power plants, that rely on the water flow to operate efficiently, they would also damage the facilities by entering with the water flow and attaching themselves to internal parts.

Zebra mussels can cause boat engines to overheat by getting into the cooling system.

Q. my concern is if one swims in infected lakes and vilgers are microscopic, could you ingest them?

Q. Are they fit for humam consumption?

Do Zebra Mussels serve a purpose?

Some ducks, other birds and some fish like freshwater drum, yellow perch, sunfish and catfish feed on young and adult zebra mussels, but not enough to make much of a dent at the rate they multiply.

Do Zebra Mussels have natural enemy's?

8/8/2014 For the answer to this question I turned to Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia "crayfish could have a significant impact on the densities of 1 to 5 mm long zebra mussels. An adult crayfish consumes an average of nearly 105 zebra mussels every day, or about 6000 mussels in a season."

What else is being done to protect our ecosystem from Zebra Mussels?

Other controls according to Wikipedia:

"On June 4, 2014, Canadian conservation authorities announced that a test using liquid fertilizer to kill invasive zebra mussels was successful. This test was conducted in a lakefront harbor in the western province of Manitoba."

Lakes in Texas with an established breeding population

Lakes in Texas that have an established breeding population of zebra mussels are Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Texoma.

In August 2012, the zebra mussels were reported as having invaded 29 states and over 600 lakes.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) have put regulations in place to stop the invasion of zebra mussels.

Boaters who launched their boats in infested waters are required by the TPWD to drain live wells, bait buckets, and the bilge. To avoid transporting vilgers to other bodies of water that may not already be infested with Zebra Mussels.

Boaters, who do not follow the TPWD code, would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. The a clause in the Lacey Act makes it a federal offence to transport harmful invasive fish/game, including the zebra mussel across state lines.

In Answer to my dear friend Au fait's question

I wonder if it might be possible to turn these things into food? That might help get them under control.

For an answer to Au fait's question I turned to 'Zebra Mussel Watch conducted by University of Wisconsin sea grant'.

Here is their answer: "Although zebra mussels are edible, we strongly advise you not to eat them. They accumulate contaminants as they feed, and in areas of high contaminant concentrations, zebra mussels can accumulate enough pollutants to raise concerns for human consumption."

The Lacey Act includes the following

The Lacey Act combats trafficking in “illegal” wildlife, fish, and plants.

Sources

The Dallas Morning News article from August 2012 "Tiny Mollusk poses outsized threat."

http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/biology/a_zm.html


© 2013 Shyron E Shenko

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 18 months ago from Texas

      Au fait, thank you for the comment and for sharing.

      Wild creatures and animals have their place

      But creatures like these could wipe out the human race

      *

      *

      I don't remember 4 days ago what was going on.

      May call you tonight, maybe, will try.

      Blessings and hugs dear friend.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 18 months ago from North Texas

      Giving this great article another share. Invasive plants and creatures, whether on land or in the water, need to be eliminated. A bad attitude I know, but so often as in this case you're writing about, there is destruction of natural creatures who were here first.

      Hope you're having a good day. Take care . . .

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 19 months ago from Texas

      Au fait, thank you for the comment, compliment and for sharing this. I will have to look for Besarien's article.

      Been a hectic day.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 19 months ago from North Texas

      Is there anything that isn't a threat to our ecosystem these days? Especially those people suffering from affluenza? Just finished reading an hilarious article by Besarien on the subject of Affluenza. I recommend it.

      Hope all is well there and that everyone will read this excellent article too.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 21 months ago from Texas

      Au fait, thank you for the comments and for sharing. I hope all is well with you.

      Blessings and Hugs... You take care also.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 21 months ago from North Texas

      Sounds like they're getting to be a worse problem, not better. Sharing this again. Hope you and John are having a good day and enjoying this pretty day. Blessings and hugs . . . take care . . .

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      Poetryman6969, thank you for the comments, I do not think you would like to eat them until they find a way to remove the toxins. I know what you mean about making the problem worse.

      Blessings and Hugs.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      Au fait, thank you for the comment, up-votes and for sharing. I think these things are toxic and it science could find a way to remove the toxins maybe they could become extinct.

      We hope you have a good day

      Blessings and hugs

      Take care.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      Thanks for providing information on the propagation of an invasive species. This is one of those things that bears watching from time to time. Mostly so that we do not inadvertently make the problem worse. Also because despite the problems in doing so, I would still like to eat most of our problems sooner or later! Maybe we will use one batch to clean up the environment. Then dispose of them safely. And then eat the next batch.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      They are a threat. Someone needs to think up a good recipe for making these things into food. If enough people had them for dinner once every couple of weeks maybe they would thin out . . .

      Voted up and shared.

      Hope you're having a rest finally and that John is feeling better. Blessings for you both.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      But the fish don't take in all the toxins these mussels do.

      I did not know the answer to you previous question, and had to look it up. It was a good add-on.

      Have agood night.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Lots of people love deep sea fishing and many of them eat their catch. It comes straight from the polluted oceans.

      Remember the awful mess in the Gulf a few years ago? It's still there, and fishermen are still fishing and bringing their catches to market for all of us to eat . . .

      Appreciate the update and with my name on it yet! :) Stay cool!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Au fait, thank you for your comment, FB post and sharing with your followers.

      In answer to your question I turned to 'Zebra Mussel Watch conducted by University of Wisconsin sea grant'. The answer to your question is in the above capsule titled "In Answer to my dear friend Au fait's question."

      Both John and I hope you have a great Friday. I don't plan to go out in the heat. It is 104.7°F at this moment, as it goes higher I will take a picture and post on FB.

      You have a blessed day also.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      I wonder if it might be possible to turn these things into food? That might help get them under control.

      Voted up, BAUI, posted on FB, and will share with followers!

      Hope this will be a great Friday for you and that you AND John will stay in out of the heat. To be 103 F. here today. Have a blessed day . . .

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Hi Peg, I am glad that people who look after our lakes are paying attention to this problem. I too hope the word spreads faster than Zebra Mussels.

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you more than you know.

      Blessings to you.

      Shyron

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      We live near a Texas lake where there are lots of boaters, people fishing and swimming areas. I noticed that a billboard has recently been placed on the highway in our area that cautions boaters to wash, rinse and dry their boats between dips into lakes. Hopefully, the word is spreading faster than the Zebra Mussels.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Tolovaj, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      I think there are lots of people who see and hear, but would rather turn a blind eye, and deaf ear.

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      It sounds like a serious situation. It is hard to believe certain species can cause so many problems. And we are still (almost) completely careless... I hope your article will ring some bells and some ears will actually hear them!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Sheila, for stopping by and leaving a comment, I really appreciate you.

      It is so good to know that there are boaters like you who care that you are careful. I wish everyone was like that. I know we took great care also and did not even know about the Zebra Mussles.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is excellent information that everyone should be aware of. I don't live too far from Lake Texoma and have been hearing about the zebra muscles for several years now. Lake Murray is closest to us and I'm not sure if these have been found there yet, but I wouldn't be surprised. We are very careful about cleaning our boat before we put it in the water again. Excellent post! :)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Peggy (PegCole17), for stopping by and commenting on my hub.

      Yes, it is scary how easy it is, when boaters go from one lake to the other. When we had our boat (30+) years ago, we never gave it a thought, but we only went to one lake on a weekend, and then it would be dry for the next one.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Mary (tillsontitan), I appreciate your reading my hub. If we could only stop all these invading creatures.

      Yes it is interesting how these horrible things/creatures get into our country.

      Thank you for the up-votes and sharing.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Mary (tillsontitan), I appreciate your reading my hub. If we could only stop all these invading creatures.

      Yes it is interesting how these horrible things/creatures get into our country.

      Thank you for the up-votes and sharing.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Jaye, you don't know how much I appreciate you.

      I did not see that segment of PBC, but will look for it, if its re-run, so I can watch it.

      Glad that you got the chance to see it and could tell us about the PCB threat. I knew it was bad, but did not realize how bad.

      I wish we could halt their capability to reproduce, and include the fire ants in that also.

      Thank you again for your up votes and for sharing.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      It is scary that we allow other countries to invade our water with potentially disastrous organisms. If these are microscopic, then we cannot control the spread of the mussels. How many boaters go from Lake Texoma to other lakes without a thought to what they may be transporting in the pipes of their boats? Scary.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      One million eggs a year! That's mind boggling.

      Isn't it interesting how "creatures" from other countries wind up here and cause so many problems? Plants, birds, bees, snakehead fish and zebra mussels to name a few.

      You've covered the topic well and provided some good information.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      They can be dangerous to humans, according to a documentary about "animals behaving badly" on PBS, Shyron. These little mussels accumulate concentrations of PCBs and other pollutants hundreds of thousands of times greater than normal. If a fish eats them and the fish is then eaten by a human, this can be dangerous for the human. They are apparently reproducing at an alarming rate.

      They also do a lot of damage to boat filters, water systems, etc. The photo of that car encrusted with zebra mussels certainly illustrates the problem's extent.

      Between zebra mussels, killer bees and feral pigs, Texas and other states have been invaded by many "animals behaving badly" and doing lots of damage in the process. I think some efforts to eradicate them center on halting their reproductive capability.

      Voted Up, Useful, Interesting and shared

      Jaye

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you moonlake for reading, commenting, voting up, sharing and pinning. I have also heard they are in the great lakes, I wish they could find a way to control them.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      I have heard they have had problems with them in all the great lakes. Very interesting hub. Voted up, shared and pinned.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Brandi (CraftytotheCore), thank you for the comment, I just found out about them because we live close to Lake Grapevine. I got the impression these are edible, but lack a good taste.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Wow! I had never heard of these creatures before. Fascinating information. We have regular muscles here on the east coast of CT. Which are common in seafood restaurants.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you DDE for your comment.

      Yes the Zebra Mussels are detrimental to our eco-system. They devour food that fish eat, and the decrease in fish food causes a decrease in fish; birds and other animals that depend on fish for their main diet become less and less. And that causes a ripple effect that upsets our eco-system.

      It is also my understanding that the Zebra Mussels are edible, they are lacking in taste.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Zebra Mussels/Mollusk are They a Threat to "Our Ecosystem"? quite an interesting hub and something to be concerned about things do get enough of or less of and can also be destroy our ecosystem.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      Rose, thank you for your up-vote and comments. It is a shame the invaders can come into our Ecosystem and we have such a hard time fighting them to keep the at bay.

      -Shyron

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      Nell, thank you for you comments, up-votes and for sharing, I really appreciate you.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      agvulpes, thank you for your comment and sharing my hub. It is sad to see the destruction that invaders and have on beautiful countries. I hope that your country can stop the damage being done to your Great Barrier Reef.

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      This is a very insightful article regarding the threat of Zebra Mussels to our Ecosystem. It never ceases to amaze me how the introduction of foreign species to our Ecosystem can have such a long lasting negative and often devastating impact. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 4 years ago from Australia

      It is sad to see such invasive destruction going on around the world. Unfortunately due to the amount of shipping going on it is almost impossible to stop. Even here in Australia our Great Barrier Reef is in great danger of being destroyed. Thanks for bringing this to our attention :)

      Shared!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi Shyron, we have many invasive species over here too, for example the grey squirrel has totally taken over from our native red squirrel and many others too, of course we try to keep all of them balanced, and hopefully these will be dealt with too, great read! voted up and shared, nell

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Peg, for your comment. It does seem that we are being invaded at every turn. To eradicate the zebra mussels the TPWD is working to do that, I don't know about the other states are doing to help with this problem. We can only hope that something is done.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      It seems that we have so many invasive species these days! Sad to think the damage these zebra mussels can do and how rapidly they breed. What is being done to eradicate them or at least keep them under control? Up votes and will share.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      Thumbi7, thank you for your comment, up-vote and sharing my hub.

      I really appreciate you.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image
      Author

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Au fait, for your comments, up-vote, sharing and pinning.

      I really appreciate you my friend.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 4 years ago from India

      Never heard about this before. Looks like it is a menace if you have lot of them around

      Voted up and shared

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Very interesting and they will take over if nothing is done. Voted up, interesting, pinned to my fish and sea creatures board, and will share with my followers!