Since 2009, North Texas lakes have been under attack by the invasive species known as zebra mussels. However, Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists have recently discovered them in Canyon Lake, which has left TPWD scrambling to notify the public to prevent further damage.
“It is a very big deal,” TPWD biologist Mukhtar Farooqi said.
Farooqi and his team just discovered the presence of zebra mussels in Canyon Lake last week. The invasive species can spread rapidly, causing damage to pipes, boats, and typically wash up on shorelines where people like to walk and swim.
“Their shells, they’re very sharp and they’ll be on rocks. And dead shells will wash up to the shoreline and anyone that steps on them is likely to get cut,” Farooqi noted.
Last week, staff at a marina noticed some of the zebra mussels on a boat. The problem is that they create microscopic larvae, which produces more zebra mussels. And water samples now show that the entire lake is contaminated.
“As you can imagine, an infected lake is going to be a source of contamination for other lakes,” Farooqi said.
Farooqi added that nothing can be done to treat the water, but since zebra mussels hitchhike on boats, it will be essential that people wash and decontaminate their boats before going to another lake.
This is now the furthest south that zebra mussels have been discovered in Texas, which would explain why most people that go to Canyon Lake are unaware of the growing problem.
“I’ve never heard of them before,” said Jason Yerrington, who is from San Antonio and was out on the lake with his family on Tuesday.
He said his family likes to go to Canyon Lake as often as possible.
“We really like the lake. I mean, compared to some of the other ones in Texas, this is one our favorite ones to go to. So that would not be cool to see the mussels all over the place,” Yerrington said.
Biologists say that it’s very possible that the zebra mussel larvae produced in the lake will go down stream into the Guadalupe River and also into about five other lakes further south.