PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

December 1, 2012

Chester Moore column: Zebra mussels spreading in Texas

PORT ARTHUR —   Zebra mussels are one of the biggest concerns facing Texas fisheries and waterways.

    The non-indigenous nuisance has already been found in Lake Texoma and Ray Roberts.

    Since Texas is new to the zebra mussel fight we wanted to give you a look at what experts around the country have to say about their impact and how they are spread.

    Perhaps the most well documented impacts are native mussels, which are an important food source for species like blue catfish.

    Zebra mussels are anchoring themselves by the thousands to native mussels making it impossible for the native mussel to function according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

    “As many as 10,000 zebra mussels have attached to a single native mussel. Our natives have all but disappeared in Lake St. Clair and the western basin of Lake Erie.”

    Zebra mussels are filtering the Great Lakes at an amazing rate, making the lake very clear according to USGS officials.

    “Most people assume that this increased visibility in the water must mean the water is "cleaner". Not true. All they have done is filter out all the algae which normally would be food for native microscopic organisms.”

Interestingly the USGS Great Lakes regional branch said they have some positive impacts.

    “As the lakes clear, the brighter light levels cause aquatic plants to increase in number and size. This increased plant growth can be beneficial to some fish such as northern pike and to yellow perch.”

    Studies so far have shown no significant negative impact on fish populations in zebra mussel lakes. Most of the studies have been conducted in northern waters so the jury is still out on how it might affect largemouth bass for example in Texas waters.

    According to TPWD one zebra mussel can produce 30,000 to a million offspring in just one year.

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