During a recent follow-up search in the Christmas Lake, divers have spotted as many as ten zebra mussels. This news has been confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Here, it must be mentioned that the zebra mussels have been located outside the area of the lake that was treated by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2014.
Last year’s treatment of the Christmas Lake was just one among the several small, targeted treatments the DNR carried out in Minnesota lakes. A search conducted in the previously treated part of the lake in April revealed that the treatment had been successful.
Keegan Lund, the aquatic invasive species specialist at the DNR, said that findings of the follow-up searches indicate that treatments conducted in the public access area of the Christmas Lake were successful in eradicating mussels from that region. Lund explained that the zebra mussels spotted by the divers might have been attached to the native mussels residing in the lake since last fall or summer.
For those who don’t know: zebra mussels are invasive species known for gathering food by competing with other aquatic creatures including native mussels. They move from infected lakes to other water bodies by attaching to watercrafts like boats, ships, etc. Zebra mussels possess sharp nails, which make water bodies with these creatures extremely dangerous for swimmers.
DNR has identified more than 200 zebra mussel-infested water bodies. The current operation is not the first of its kind in Minnesota. This is the second time the state is seeing the DNR carrying out chemical treatments in its lakes with the aim of killing zebra mussels. Right now, the crews carrying out the treatment are particularly focusing on the west metro lake called Lake Independence.
When asked why they are so concerned about the presence of zebra mussels in lakes, Three Rivers Park District’s the Director of Natural Resources John Barten said that zebra mussels might have the potential of spoiling lake ecosystems.
The chemical the crews are using for eliminating zebra mussels form the water bodies is known as potash. This chemical kills these aquatic creatures by cutting their oxygen off; it doesn’t have any bad effect on people or other aquatic components. Barten informed that potash is a harmless chemical and is thus often used by farmers as a fertilizer.