Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Zebra mussels spotted in Lady Bird Lake; Lake Austin now ‘infested’

9:44 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018  Local News

Zebra mussels have been spotted in Lady Bird Lake, and Texas wildlife officials now consider Lake Austin to be “infested” with the invasive species.

Lady Bird Lake was upgraded to “suspect” status because mussels or their larvae have been found at least once after the Lower Colorado River Authority found several larvae in a plankton sample, according to a statement from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Lake Austin is considered infested once wildlife officials confirmed an established, reproducing population of zebra mussels. Texas Parks and LCRA staff found adult zebra mussels and larvae in multiple locations, including Tom Miller Dam and the Pennybacker Bridge, wildlife officials said.

The infestation at Lake Austin and the discovery of microscopic zebra mussel larvae in Lady Bird Lake come less than a year after the animals were first spotted upstream in Lake Travis last June.

Zebra mussels can not only harm native freshwater species, but they also can affect water clarity, cause algae blooms, litter beaches with sharp shells, clog water intakes on hydroelectric facilities, and damage boats and motors.

Monica McGarrity, whose team at Texas Parks and Wildlife monitors aquatic invasive species, said that once zebra mussels appeared in the Colorado River basin, they were likely to spread downstream.

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