Zebra mussels found in North Dakota stretch of Red River
Northward flow of Red River means more mussels could be on the way for Manitoba waterways
Zebra mussels have been found in the Red River just south of the Manitoba border.
A significant amount of zebra mussel larvae (or veligers) were picked up in June surveys of the river from the southeast to northeast parts of North Dakota, an official with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said in a release.
Zebra mussels were first found in Manitoba in 2013. This spring, they were found on a private dock in Selkirk Park and zebra mussel larvae were found in the Red River near Emerson. The province said that's the first time the larvae have been found in that part of the river, which is just above the North Dakota border.
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"And it's even more incredible considering that in similar sampling over the past several years we've only detected about a half dozen veligers in total."
The microscopic mollusk larvae are released by adult mussels into the water and attach to rocks, docks, boats, bridges and pipes. The accumulation of mussels on surfaces can damage underwater infrastructure.
They compete for the same food sources as some game fish, which can throw off food-chain dynamics in fresh water ecosystems. Zebra mussels are also filter feeders. Their eating habits can dramatically alter the complexion and nutrient-levels of fresh water basins.
Once invasive species like zebra mussels get into waterways, it is almost impossible to get them out.
"There really isn't anything we can do to remove the veligers or any adult zebra mussels from the river," Ryckman said in the release. "But we can be on alert and do everything we can to prevent them from being moved to other bodies of water."
The northward flow of the Red River means more of the invasive species could be headed for the province.
In May, the province announced it will be enlisting the help of detection dogs to sniff out the presence of mussels on boats and aquatic equipment.