Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)

Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)

This small mussel is a native of the Caspian and Black Seas region and has been in Irish waters for only a little over a decade. 

Zebra mussel
Zebra Mussel - Photograph by permission of Central Fisheries Board

Description 

This small mussel is a native of the Caspian and Black Seas region and has been in Irish waters for only a little over a decade.  A mainly freshwater species, zebra mussels can spread very quickly in the right conditions and have done in Ireland. They are now found throughout the Shannon and Shannon-Erne catchments, in the Grand Canal and in a total of over 50 lakes across Ireland.  It is also possible that they are now in other catchments such as the Barrow / Nore.

Problems associated with this species include: 

Zebra mussels are filter feeders and remove much of the plankton that juvenile fish depend upon and can cause other changes to water habitats. They attach to hard surfaces such as boats, buoys and water intake pipes, where they form reef-like clusters. They can block up water intake pipe, causing many thousands of Euros worth of damage.

Zebra mussel
Zebra Mussel - Photograph by permission of Central Fisheries Board

Where is it in Meath? 

There is limited information on Zebra Mussels in the county, although they are known to occur in Lough Sheelin.  Any sightings of this species should be reported to the contacts below.

What can you do?  

The most important thing is to stop it spreading in Ireland by adopting a code of practice:

  • Inspect boat hull, equipment and machinery for adult Zebra Mussels and remove them.
  • Clean boat with hot water and allow it to dry after every trip. If you have removed your boat from Zebra Mussel infested waters, you should allow the boat to dry out for 1 month or steam clean.
  • Remove plant life from the hull, propellers, trailer hitches and all equipment since zebra mussels may be attached to the plants.
  • Dry out or disinfect coarse angling keep-nets that may have been in contact with infected water bodies.

Report all sightings to Inland Fisheries Ireland
 

Download more information on zebra mussels and how to prevent them spreading at the Central Fisheries Board website - http://www.cfb.ie/Notices/zebramussels.htm and the Invasive Species Ireland website -http://www.invasivespeciesireland.com/mostunwanted/detail.asp?id=34

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