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Zebra Mussels


What are zebra mussels, and what are some of the problems they cause?



Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are an invasive species to the Great Lakes region. They reside in many bodies of water, including lakes and rivers. They are identifiable by their striped pattern, high population density, and foul odor.

Zebra mussels have hard shells and soft, fatty tissue on the inside. They serve as excellent filter feeders, meaning that they remove particulates and microscopic algae from the surrounding waters. Zebra muscles are particularly good filter feeders as some can filter up to a quart a day. This poses a threat environmentally because it increases photosynthetic rates and results in rapid sedimentation and eutrophication. This ages the lake, changes its chemical levels, and reduces biodiversity.

Zebra mussels also have appendages that help them to cling to any surface. Hundreds of zebra mussels can be found clinging to sticks, rocks, docks, pipes, or other organisms. This gives the potential for zebra mussels to kill off other organisms, clog up piping, create sharp surfaces, and reproduce quickly.

Economically, zebra mussel management has already cost millions of dollars. Zebra mussels can accumulate in pipes and machines, blocking flow and damaging equipment. Because they can directly and indirectly reduce the biodiversity around them, zebra mussels can also impact commercial fisheries and related industries.



Where are zebra mussels in West Bloomfield?



As of January 2007, zebra mussels invaded 9 of the lakes within West Bloomfield:

  • Cass Lake
  • Sylvan Lake
  • Long Lake
  • Union Lake
  • Middle Straits Lake
  • Upper Straits Lake
  • Orchard Lake
  • Walnut Lake
  • Pine Lake

Zebra mussels can be introduced into new bodies of water accidentally.  Because they cling to most surfaces, zebra mussels can often be found on boats and other water vehicles. If transported and not rinsed properly after use, it is easy for them to colonize new areas.



What measures are being taken in Michigan to combat the zebra mussel problem?



Preventative measures and reductive treatments have been put into place in Michigan to combat the prevalence of zebra mussels.  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's (MDEQ) invasive species page has many resources for what individuals can do to prevent the spread of invasive species. One of the preventative programs implemented is the Michigan Ballast Water Permit program. By requiring these permits, Michigan is reducing the transmission of invasive species and their colonization of new bodies of water.

Some reductive treatments are being developed but are not approved for usage at this time. These treatments include chemical interference to render zebra mussels sterile and bioremediation, the introduction of a natural predator to reduce population sizes. However, these methods are theoretical and may not be practical or healthy for all water systems.

Contact your lake association to find out what practices your lake has implemented to help the zebra mussel problem.

Properly Maintain Your Boats and Other Recreational Vehicles



Environmental Department Homepage