Zebra mussels have been found in Lake Winnipeg. Because this species of mussel is not native to the lake it is causing ecological damage by disturbing the food chain.
They can severely effect the fish that are in the lake as well as the quality of the water in the lake. This same disruption has already happened to some of the other lakes nearby. These mussels not only cause damage to the ecological system of the lake but they can also clog boating equipment or municipal water lines. No one is certain what damage they will cause in Lake Winnipeg.
Zebra mussels look like small clams with a yellowish or brownish D-shaped shell that has dark- and light-coloured stripes. They can grow up to five centimetres long but are generally under 2.5 centimetres in length.
It is unclear how the mussels arrived at Lake Winnipeg. The government of Manitoba has been trying for some time to prevent the spread of zebra mussels to Lake Winnipeg by asking boaters to make sure they have cleaned their boats prior to coming in from other areas.
The zebra mussel attaches itself to the bottom of boats and can be transferred from lake to lake in that manner.
Some authorities think that the zebra mussels were brought in on the bottom of boats, where as others think that they may have come from the Red River, where immature zebra mussels have been found before.
The province is asking all who live along or boat in the Red River, Nelson River and Lake Winnipeg to keep an eye out for zebra mussels, report any findings and clean boats and water-related equipment before using it elsewhere.
If you think you've spotted a zebra mussel, call the aquatic invasive species line at 1-877-867-2470. For more information, visit: www.gov.mb.ca/waterstewardship/stopais/.