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Zebra Mussels Invade Connecticut



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SEPTEMBER 25, 1998)

CONNECTICUT BECOMES 19TH STATE INVADED BY ZEBRA MUSSELS
              	
GROTON, Conn. -- Zebra mussels, the nuisance freshwater mollusk first 
discovered in U.S. waters 10 years ago, have invaded their 19th state 
with the confirmation of their presence in East Twin Lake in Salisbury, 
Conn., according to the Connecticut Sea Grant College Program.

This is the first confirmed sighting of zebra mussels in Connecticut and

only the second discovery of the mussels in New England. The mussels
have 
been thriving in New York lakes, the Hudson River and Lake Champlain 
for a number of years, but had not been found in Connecticut until now.

"Unfortunately, it was just a matter of time," said Nancy Balcom,
an expert on nonindigenous species for the University of Connecticut-
based Sea Grant Program. "Western Connecticut has always been the most 
likely place for the mussels to show up, being close to the New York 
border and subject to a lot of interstate boat traffic from areas with
zebra mussels. The Twin Lakes also have the high calcium level in the 
water that the mussels need for shell formation."

Discovered during an aquatic weed harvest operation, the mussels were
given to Donald Maryland, a science teacher from Hotchkiss School in
Lakeville, Conn., who made a preliminary identification, later confirmed
by
David Strayer of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.

The mussels were up to 15 millimeters in length, indicating that they
may have introduced to the lake in late 1997, or early 1998. Multiple
specimens were found attached to aquatic weeds.

Since their discovery in Lake St. Clair in June 1988, zebra mussels
have spread throughout the Great Lakes; to the Arkansas, Hudson,
Illinois,
Mississippi, Mohawk, Ohio, St. Lawrence and Tennessee rivers; and other
waters of southern Canada and the Eastern United States.  They have also
been intercepted on boat trailers at four points in California.

Balcom, based at the University of Connecticut-Avery Point, has been
conducting educational outreach since 1992 to warn of the potential
zebra
mussel invasion and instruct boaters and lake managers on steps to take
to
prevent their spread. The nation's Sea Grant programs have a
Congressional 
mandate to support research and education regarding zebra mussels.
Recently, 
Balcom was among  several Sea Grant experts summoned to Ireland to
provide 
advice after the Shannon River was invaded.

"We've been expecting [zebra mussels] for five years," said James T.
Carlton, 
one of the world's leading experts on exotic species invasions. "I
believe 
that it's only because of the efforts of Sea Grant and the state that
they 
didn't invade much sooner."

Carlton, director of Maritime Studies at Mystic Seaport/Williams
College, 
has received $750,000 in funding from Connecticut Sea Grant, the U.S.
Coast 
Guard and other federal agencies for studies on how zebra mussels and
other 
invading plants and animals travel from one place to another.

Zebra mussels are but part of an increasing environmental threat of
non-indigenous species invasions brought on in part by the increasing
level of global commerce. According to Carlton, New England waters like
Long Island Sound are being invaded by a new species every 36 months.

The cost of the zebra mussel invasion has been high, but aggressive
efforts to implement both awareness and research to control, monitor
and mitigate the impacts of zebra mussels by Sea Grant, industry and 
government agencies has helped reduce projected damage and control costs
downward from early forecasts of billions of dollars to less than $100
million.

A recent study by the National Sea Grant Zebra Mussel Clearinghouse in
Brockport,
N.Y., estimated that costs of the zebra mussel infestation to raw
water-dependent 
infrastructure users like utilities at about $69 million between
1989-1995.

###

For more information:

Nancy Balcom
Connecticut Sea Grant Extension Leader
860-405-9127
E-mail: balcom@uconnvm.uconn.edu

James T. Carleton
Director
Williams College/Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program
860-572-5359
E-mail: james.t.carlton@williams.edu

Charles O'Neill
Director
Sea Grant National Zebra Mussel Information Clearinghouse
716-395-2638
E-mail: coneill@cce.cornell.edu
http://cce.cornell.edu/seagrant/nansc/index.htm

Peg Van Patten
Communications Director
Connecticut Sea Grant
860-405-9141
E-mail: vanpatte@uconnvm.uconn.edu
www.ucc.uconn.edu/~wwwsgo/

###

Distributed by Ben Sherman
Coordinator
Sea Grant National Media Relations
841 National Press Building
Washington D.C. 20045-2277
Phone: 202-662-7095
E-Mail: sherman@nasw.org
www.mdsg.umd.edu/seagrantmediacenter/

###

Posted by Stephen Wittman
Assistant Director for Communications
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
voice 608/263-5371 * fax 608/263-2063
www.seagrant.wisc.edu