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News Release - Boaters Check for Zebra Mussels

                            MINNESOTA SEA GRANT

                              NEWS RELEASE
Date: 10/2/98                              CONTACTS: Doug Jensen (218) 726-8712
                                                     Jay Rendall (651) 297-1464

           Boaters Need To Check Watercraft For Zebra Mussels

A discovery last weekend of zebra mussels on a boat moored in the 
Duluth-Superior harbor has prompted state officials to warn boaters to be 
especially cautious to avoid transporting this harmful exotic species.

Doug Jensen, Exotic Species Information Center coordinator for the University of
Minnesota Sea Grant Program, found that on September 27, a 20-foot sailboat 
removed from the Duluth-Superior harbor for transport to the Twin Cities was 
heavily-infested with zebra mussels.  Until now, the infestation in the 
Duluth-Superior harbor has been relatively mild compared to other areas of the 
Great Lakes. 

"This provides evidence that zebra mussels are alive and well in the harbor," 
said Jensen.  "This is the first time we've found a boat so heavily-infested in 
this area.  Boat owners taking their watercraft from the harbor should take 
extra time and care to inspect and remove zebra mussels."

Jensen said the owners didn't notice the young, half-inch-long zebra mussels on 
the hull, so they could have transported the exotic species to uninfested waters
or violated state laws that prohibit transport of zebra mussels.  Jensen reports
that the concerned owner removed the mussels with a brush and promised to take 
it to a car wash to jet spray off any remaining mussels. The boat was moored all
summer at a private dock in shallow water near Hearding Island, Park Point.

"This is a good example of why public awareness and cooperation are important to
prevent the spread of zebra mussels," said Jensen.

According to Jay Rendall, DNR Exotic Species Program coordinator, the incident 
underscores the need for boaters to be especially diligent.  "So far, we haven't
found any zebra mussels in inland waters in Minnesota, and we want to keep it 
that way," said Rendall.   "Our rules and regulations reinforce that it's 
important to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other prohibited species, 
but it's the cooperative and voluntary action by boaters that is making the real

In Minnesota, it is unlawful to transport zebra mussels or aquatic plants on a 
public road.  Violators are subject to misdemeanor or civil penalties.

Zebra mussels attach to hard surfaces, such as boat hulls and motors and can 
also attach to aquatic plants.  This makes it important for boaters to remove 
all plants from their boat and trailer, and to empty water from livewells and 
bait buckets before leaving infested waters.

Another area of the state where boats could potentially transport the harmful 
exotic is Lake Pepin, a widening of the Mississippi River.  The zebra mussel 
population in this area has grown to over 20,000 mussels per square yard.

"Boat owners who moored their watercraft over the summer in Duluth or the lower 
Mississippi are the ones most likely to be transporting zebra mussels," said 
Rendall.  "Those boaters should be prepared to clean their boats before leaving 
boat accesses.