The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quagga Mussels

I've been reading a lot lately about the quagga mussel. This filter-feeding bivalve is native to the Ukraine and was transported into the Great Lakes in a ship's ballast water. It was first seen in Lake Erie in 1989. Since then, the quaggas have populated all five of the Great Lakes. Since then it has spread to the Mississippi River, to waterways in Colorado, and even as far as California.

As with any species transported into an ecosystem where it has not been before, the invader often has a competitive advantage. This is because it there may not be natural predators to keep the invader's population in check.

Transported over to the Great Lakes and dumped into these deep, phytoplankton-rich waters, the quaggas multiplied and spread.

It is now estimated that there are 900 TRILLION quaggas
in Lake Michigan.

Seriously. They number in the HUNDREDS of TRILLIONS, and they are crashing the lake's ecosystem.

Read more about this crisis HERE.

And here's one of the most comprehensive articles I've ever read on dealing with invasive species. It was in a recent issue of Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel.

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