The USGS figure below presents the point distribution map of Dreissena polymorpha throughout the continental US through February 2019.
Non-native zebra and quagga mussels invaded the Great Lakes region in the early 1990s arriving in foreign ships’ ballast water. Some estimates place their numbers as high as 750 trillion within the United States. These mussels “muscle out” native species and disrupt the food chain, by siphoning out nutrient-rich plankton that fish also need to survive.
Zebra and quagga mussels wreak havoc on marine infrastructure, such as cooling water intakes for power plants, industrial facilities, and screening structures for drinking water plants. Zebra mussels cause severe damage to various parts of hydroelectric power plants in affected areas. Water strainers and cooling systems clogged up with zebra mussels often cause shutdowns due to overheating and the prevention of water flowing through the powerhouse.
But human ingenuity is making some inroads against the invaders.
In 2019, Underwater Construction Corporation provided commercial diving services to support the Invasive Mussel Collaborative (https://invasivemusselcollaborative.net/about/), which coordinated a demonstration control project for invasive mussels at Good Harbor Reef in Lake Michigan.
“UCC was an active partner on the project for the design, procurement, construction and removal of benthic barrier structure,” said Nick Stathakis, UCC Midwest Regional Sales Manager. “UCC provided dive and support vessels, including USCG-licensed captains, for the project. UCC divers assembled and removed the barrier and structure, pumped the Zequanox® toxicant product from the support vessel, and monitored conditions. UCC also acted as a support crew for the scientific divers completing the study.”
A copy of the Invasive Mussel Collaborative report, “Dreissenid Mussel Control Demonstration Project”, can be found at https://invasivemusselcollaborative.net/research-and-projects/imc-pilot-project-draft/.
Project partners included the National Park Service, US Geological Survey; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; Great Lakes Commission; Great Lakes Fishery Commission; the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; University of Michigan; LimnoTech; Marrone Bio Innovations; Underwater Construction Corporation; and the Great Lakes Environmental Center.
This project expanded existing National Park Service and Michigan Department of Natural Resources projects to remove invasive mussels in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Good Harbor Reef areas near Traverse City, MI.