The invasive and destructive Zebra mussels species was found in Lake Travis in June 2017 and in Lake Austin in August 2017. This follows their discovery in nearby Canyon Lake also in June 2017. This species of mussels poses a “danger to lake ecosystems, utilities, and infrastructure,” according to the Lower Colorado River Authority.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, biologists “found several size classes of adult and juvenile mussels at two different sites in the lake, indicating the lake is infested with an established, reproducing population.”
Zebra mussels can be transported unknowingly from lake to lake from boats, live wells, and bilges because they are microscopic. There is no eradication method for these mussels, and once established in a lake, there is little that can curb their spread. The mussels, originally from Eurasia, are rapidly reproducing and “can cover shoreline rocks and litter beaches with treacherously sharp shells, clog public-water intakes, and damage boats and motors left in infested waters.”
The goal now, according to Inland Fisheries Regional Director Brian Van Zee is to help prevent further spread by educating the public. “This is a battle we cannot give up on – the cost of these infestations is large and affects so many people. We have to keep up the fight and try to inform the public as much as possible about how they can protect their lakes from invasive species.”
Monica McGarrity, TPWD Aquatic Invasive Species team lead, said, “A boat can take a ready-made colony to another lake at any time – so preventing the spread within these newly infested basins is still really important. The longer we can stave off new infestations the longer we can prevent potential recreational impacts or costly impacts to infrastructure.”
Texas boaters are required to drain all water from their boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, and any other vessels before approaching or leaving a body of fresh water. It is illegal in Texas to possess or transport Zebra mussels, whether dead or alive.