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Exotic Species and the Boater

Zebra MusselYou and your family may not be alone on your boat. Exotic species such as zebra mussels and eurasian watermilfoil may be riding along with you, ready to get off at your next stop. Boaters to the Rideau should be aware of problem species that they could be bringing into the Rideau or, taking out of the Rideau, and back to the next lake or river that you boat on.

Some species such as the zebra mussel, eurasian watermilfoil and gypsy moth can hop a ride on boats and trailers. Others such as the Round Goby, White Perch, Ruffe, Spiny Water Flea or zebra mussel larvae could be hitching a ride in a baitbucket or livewell.

The checklist below, if followed by all boaters, will help slow down the spread of these exotic invaders.


Clean boats, clean waters...

If you are a water recreationalist — boater, angler, water-skier, scuba-diver, sailor, or canoeist — there are some important things you can do to prevent the transport fo harmful exotic species from one lake or river to another. In some states and provinces it is illegal to transport harmful exotic species.

Inspect your boat, trailer, and boating
equipment (anchors, centerboards, rollers, axles) and remove any plants
and animals that are visible before leaving any waterbody.

Drain water from the motor, livewell, blige, and transom wells while on land before  leaving any waterbody.

Empty your bait bucket on land before leaving the waterbody. Never release live bait into a waterbody, or release aquatic animals from one water body into another.

Wash and dry your boat, tackle, downriggers, trailer, and other boating equipment to kill harmful species that were not visible at the boat launch. This can be done on your way home or once you have returned home. Some aquatic nuisance species can survive more than 2 weeks out of the water, so it is important to:

  • rinse your boat and equipment that normally get wet with HOT (at least 40oC or 104oF) tap water; or
  • spray your boat and trailer with high-pressure water; or
  • dry your boat and equipment for at least 5 days, before transporting to another waterbody.
Learn what these organisms look like (at least those you can see). If you suspect a new infestation of an exotic plant or animal report it to your natural resource agency.

Consult your natural resource agency for recommendations and permits before you try to control or eradicate an exotic "pest." Remember, exotic "pest" species thrive on disturbance. Do-it-yourself control treatments often make matters worse and can harm native species.

Comments: send me email: Ken Watson

©1996-2013 Ken W. Watson