WXXI AM News

National group goes after invasive mussels in the Great Lakes

Jul 22, 2019

Quagga mussels are an invasive species in the Great Lakes.
Credit USFWS

A renewed effort to fight invasive mussels in the Great Lakes is underway.

Invasive quagga and zebra mussels aren’t new to the Great Lakes. But according to some experts, they’re among the greatest threats to the ecosystem.

Dan Molloy is an expert in aquatic invasive species, especially the quagga mussel.

"Their populations can explode, they eat microscopic plants which are the foundation of the ecosystem, and they’re the only freshwater mussel or clam that can attach to thing."

Molloy says these factors make them destructive not just to the environment, but to industry as well -- by clogging water intakes.

Quagga mussels have few natural predators, and have been successful in the Great Lakes and other lakes across North America since being carried here by ships from Europe in the 1980s.

But there is a nationally recognized group committed to finding out how to fix the problem, the Invasive Mussel Collaborative.

Erika Jensen is a program manager who works with the IMC and the Great Lakes Commission.

"There’s a lot of research going on to try to identify the most effective control methods that don’t impact other species that we don’t want to harm," Jensen said.

The IMC was endorsed recently by several national and international institutions as being responsible for leading the charge on fighting the Great Lakes mussel problem. Jensen says this will help fund new research and raise awareness about the problem.