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Invasive Zebra Mussels Found In Susquehanna River

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Zebra mussels attached to a boat propeller. The invasive species will latch on to just about anything, biologists say.
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Zebra mussels attached to a boat propeller. The invasive species will latch on to just about anything, biologists say.

Zebra mussels have been found at the mouth of the Susquehanna River where it meets the Chesapeake Bay and biologists are urging boaters to avoid introducing the invasive species elsewhere.

Ever since they were introduced to the Great Lakes from Eastern Europe in 1988, zebra mussels have been moving down the Susquehanna in fits and starts. Now they've been found at Havre de Grace, Md., just north of Baltimore. They're striped like zebras, and can grow over everything.

They reproduce and multiply. They like to fasten to hard surfaces they can get into water intake systems," says Ron Klauda, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. They can also fasten to boats and pipes and other mussels and even crayfish  — really just about anything. 

"The good news is, we're not seeing the tremendously dense populations we've seen in other parts of the country," Klauda says.

But that's what they were saying in New York when zebra mussels first appeared on the Hudson River some years back.

"And then within a matter of a couple years they really exploded," he says. The population in the Hudson River has since gone up and down.

To avoid spreading the mussels to other freshwater streams and rivers in the area, boaters and fishermen should wash mud and plants from boats, motors and trailers and drain all river water before leaving, biologists say. If possible, boaters should rinse equipment with hot or high pressure water before going to another body of water.

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