Small Mussels Cause Big Problems for Lake Mead - 8 News NOW

Small Mussels Cause Big Problems for Lake Mead

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LAS VEGAS --  Quagga mussels still infest Lake Mead and there's not much that can be done about it. But now, there's an increased effort to prevent the invasive mussel species from clogging up other Nevada lakes.

The small Quagga mussels are impacting the ecosystem in Lake Mead. You mix that with the lower water level, and it's changing the types of fish people are catching. The mussels are here to stay at Lake Mead. They were first detected at Lake Mead in January 2007. Within a year, they infested the entire lake.

"The main thing they do to the ecosystem is they are highly efficient filter feeders. They remove a lot of the plankton in he lake which is a food source for the ecosystem," said Chief of Resource Management Kent Turner.

"I know one thing, since they've shown up the fishing has gotten worse," said Tim Klinger who shows off the fish he caught at Lake Mead while highlighting the special efforts boaters are taking to prevent the spread of Quagga mussels.

"If I'm going to look at my boat, I'll start at the lower unit. From the bottom and then look around the prop. Look inside, around your vents here and then just kinda inspect everywhere and then of course, pull your drain plug wherever it is on your boat. You always want to do that at the end of the day," said Klinger.

Quagga mussels can be seen -- where the water has receded -- clustered on rocks. The mussels can live out of water up to 30 days.

"The mid-water fish might decrease in numbers, the fish that are bottom feeders might increase in numbers," said Turner.

So far, efforts to stop the spread of Quagga mussels coming from Lake Mead and getting into Lake Tahoe have been successful. There's now signs at the lake reminding boaters "Don't Move a Mussel." But to make matters worse, there's a new invasive species to worry about in these waters --  the New Zealand mud snail. Those could further change the fishing at Lake Mead.

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