Natural Resources > All Natural Resources > ANR-1033

Boaters: Beware of Zebra Mussels
Bill Hosking, J.J. Bachant, Richard Wallace
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Pages / Length: 6
Publication Date: 06/10/2003

Zebra mussels are native to the streams and rivers of the colder areas of Europe. They were first found in the United States in the Great Lakes region during the mid 1980s. They have readily adapted to our warmer, southern waters and can even tolerate brackish waters. Zebra mussels have no known natural predators, multiply rapidly, feed on phytoplankton (microscopic aquatic plants), and settle on any hard surface—even on top of each other—forming dense colonies. They filter feed very effectively and hoard the food they cannot immediately consume by binding it with a mucus that makes it unavailable to other animals. Their feeding is so efficient they can disrupt freshwater food chains and may cause major changes in some fish populations.