Over the past three decades, zebra mussels have found their way into United States’ waters. Native to the Black and Caspian seas, these mussels travel by latching onto sea-going ships or stowing away in ships’ ballasts. Now, zebra mussels can be found in the Mississippi River, some parts of California, and even the Great Lakes.
This aquatic species first appeared in the Great Lakes in 1988. Yet, not all greeted them warmly, because zebra mussels cause trouble for people and their property. Specifically, they clog the pipes that go to power and water plants. These dime-sized mollusks cover many surfaces including intake pipes, which are not easy to unblock.
Because they have few predators and multiply quickly, zebra mussels have an abundant population. Additionally, they filter water to find food, which allows them to eat and reproduce quickly and constantly.
As an invasive species, the zebra mussel has certainly changed the global ecosystem. Many wish that this mollusk had never made its way to North American waters.
[Source: Simpson Street Free Press archives]