In response to a growing threat by non-native, invasive species of mussels, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is offering training classes for people interested in participating in an early detection program to find Quagga and Zebra mussels. Four different training sessions will be offered at different locations throughout the state in early May. For locations and times, visit the Department of Fish and Game’s website.
“Working with local agencies and organizations to organize mussel monitoring programs is essential to combating the spread of Quagga and Zebra mussels,” said DFG Director Donald Koch. “By increasing the number of waters monitored and gathering information from these waterways local water authorities will be better able to create infestation prevention and response approaches.” Class participants will be trained in data collection skills, which will become the basis of a statewide monitoring program to track the presence and progress of the mussels.
Originally found by state and local water agencies in 2007, Quagga and Zebra mussels-which range in size from microscopic to the size of a fingernail-are both prolific and destructive. According to DFG, they disrupt the food web and secrete toxins harmful to other aquatic organisms. They exist in groups, attaching to hard or soft surfaces. Zebra mussels live in water that is anywhere from four to 180 feet deep, while Quagga mussels can survive at depths as low as 400 feet. Quagga mussels are originally from riverine ecosystems in Ukraine, while Zebra mussels are native to the Caspian Sea. In the U.S., both were originally found as invasive species in the Great Lakes-where they have caused significant ecological disruption-and are thought to have been deposited by ballast water drainage from anchored ships.
“Once developed, this program will expand the state’s abilities to monitor its waters and track the mussels’ movement should any occur,” said Koch. “The participants will also be trained in talking to the public about the mussels. The more discussion about Quagga and Zebra mussels, the more aware the public will be of the serious threat these creatures pose.” DFG has already trained more than 300 people throughout the state to assist in data collection procedures.
The deadline for application to the program is Monday, April 28th. Those interested in participating in the training program should call (323) 260-3851, or register online at http://ucanr.org/quaggaworkshop. Boaters or other water recreation enthusiasts who find what they think may be Quagga or Zebra mussels can call DFG’s toll-free hotline at 1-866-440-9530. The hotline is available Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.