A known nuisance in lakes Zoar and Lilliononah, zebra mussels have been discovered immediately downstream in Lake Housatonic, providing evidence that the invasive species is spreading, state environmental officials said.
Divers who were hired to survey for the invasive species using Federal Aquatic Nuisance Species grant money discovered the zebra mussels at the bottom of the lake in the southern end of the water body, which is bordered by Monroe, Oxford, Seymour, Shelton and Derby, officials said.
The species were first found in this region in the Housatonic River in 2009 in Laurel Lake in Massachusetts and a year later were and Lillinonah. Given their rapid spread, officials said they had been expecting to find the musssels in Lake Housatonic particularly because the environment is favorable to the species, namely moderate to high calcium concentrations and pH, officials said.
Zebra mussels are black and white-striped bivalue mollusks native to the waters of Russia and first introduced to North America when they were unintentionally discharged as part of ship ballast water, according to state environmental officials. The species were first found in Lake St. Clair by the Canadian border in 1988 and now has spread to the Great Lakes, Mississippi River, Lake Champlain, Hudson River and most of New York, officials said.
The mussels disrupt the native environment and can clog pipes and foul boat hulls.
For the past decade, officials have been in the midst of a the spread of the mussels through encouraging boaters to check their equipment and clean their vessels and gear so as to avoid the spread of so-called aquatic hitchhikers from infected waters to clean ones.
Below are tips from the state on how to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and aquatic hitchhikers:
Before leaving a boat launch:
§ CLEAN: all visible plant, fish, and animals as well as mud or other debris. Do not transport them home.
§ DRAIN: all water from every space and item that may hold water.
At home or prior to your next launch:
§ DRY: anything that comes in contact with water (boats, trailers, anchors, propellers, etc) for a minimum of 1 week during hot/dry weather or a minimum of 4 weeks during cool/wet weather.
If drying is not possible, you should clean your boat prior to the next launch.
The techniques listed below are advised to decontaminate your vessel:
§ Wash your boat with hot, pressurized water.
§ Dip equipment in 100% vinegar for 20 minutes prior to rinsing.
§ Wash with a 1% salt solution (2/3 cup to 5 gallons water) and leave on for 24 hours prior to rinsing.
§ "Wet" with bleach solution (1 oz to 1 gallon water) or soap and hot water (Lysol, boat soap, etc) for 10 minutes prior to rinsing.
§ Do not dump your bait bucket or release live bait! Avoid introducing unwanted plants and animals. Unless your bait was obtained on site, dispose of it in a suitable trash container or give it to another angler.
§ Do not transport fish, other animals or plants between water bodies. Release caught fish, other animals and plants only into the waters from which they came.
Sightings of zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species can be done by calling DEEP’s Inland Fisheries Division at 860-424-3474. For more information on programs to educate boaters on preventing the spread of invasive species, contact the Boating Division at 860-447-4339.
More information on zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species can be found on the DEEP website and in the