Photo: KICD AM

Zebra Mussel Veligers Found in East Okoboji Lake

Okoboji, IA (KICD)–The Iowa DNR recently found additional evidence of zebra mussels in East Okoboji Lake.

A mid-June sample from the lake revealed four zebra mussel veligers, which is the larval stage. After the discovery of four juvenile zebra mussels in East Okoboji and Upper Gar Lake last fall, sampling of the Great Lakes and surrounding area lakes has increased. Fisheries Management Bioligist Mike Hawkins tells KICD News they will continue to monitor the situation.

Zebra mussels are filter feeders that attach to underwater surfaces. They can interfere with aquatic food chains, kill native mussels and clog water intakes. And there’s no getting rid of zebra mussels once they are in a lake or river.

The zebra mussels probably arrived on or in a boat that had picked up the mussels in an infested water body. Young zebra mussels are microscopic and can be unintentionally transported with water in bilges, live wells or bait buckets. Adult zebra mussels can attach to boats, trailers and aquatic vegetation.
It is illegal to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels in Iowa. And, beginning July 1, boaters will be required to drain all water from boats and equipment before leaving a water body and keep drain plugs removed or opened during transport.

Zebra mussels look like small, D-shaped clams that have alternating light and dark bands. Most are less than 1 inch long. They are native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia and were introduced into the Great Lakes in the 1980s from ballast water of oceangoing ships. They spread from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and were first documented in the Mississippi River in Iowa in 1992.