Quagga and zebra mussels are an invasive non-native species that breed very fast, have no known predators, and can quickly colonize new areas within California waters. Once they infect a water body, they cover piers, boat launches, and water intake facilities. There is no effective eradication method, and the cost to manually remove these mussels from water intake screens and pipes is millions of dollars per year for the state’s water system operators.
Quagga and zebra mussels are the size of a thumbnail.
There are currently no Quagga or zebra mussels in North Coast waterways, including Lake Sonoma, Lake Mendocino and Ruth Lake. Let’s keep it that way!
Who do I contact if I find a mussel?
If you need to notify authorities regarding an aquatic invasive species, please call 1-877-STOP-ANS (1-877-786-7267). The hotline is answered by a live person 24/7/365.
What is an aquatic invasive species?
Aquatic invasive species are any plant or animal species—such as quagga and zebra mussels—introduced to a body of water that, once established, spreads quickly from their point of introduction. Through competition for resources, predation, parasitism, or causing physical or chemical changes to the invaded habitat, invasive species can hugely impact the diversity or abundance of native species.
Quagga and zebra mussels spread quickly
Quagga and zebra mussels are two closely related mussel species that were introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1980s. Since that time, the mussels have spread to many eastern waterways, rivers, and lakes.
Quagga mussels were found in Arizona’s Lake Mead in early 2007 and subsequently spread throughout the lake’s lower basin. Quagga and zebra mussels are currently located in a number of lakes and waterways in California.
Environmental and economic impact
The quagga and zebra mussel upsets the food chain by consuming phytoplankton that other species need to survive. They are filter feeders—an adult filters 1 quart of water per day—that consume large portions of the microscopic plants and animals that form the base of the food web.
The mussels can colonize on hulls, engines, and steering components of boats, and if left unchecked, can damage boat motors and restrict cooling.
The mussels frequently settle in massive colonies that can block water intake pipes and threaten municipal water supply.
California could spend hundreds of millions of dollars protecting the state’s water system from quagga and zebra mussel infestation.