Boatload of mussels intercepted at Tahoe | RecordCourier.com

Boatload of mussels intercepted at Tahoe

Staff Reports

A little regulatory muscle prevented a literal boatload of mussels from reaching Lake Tahoe recently.

Boat inspectors recently prevented two vessels from launching at Lake Tahoe and other regional lakes, after discovering infestations of aquatic invasive species. During mandatory inspections in Meyers and Truckee, California, inspectors found invasive mussels on both boats.

Inspectors intercepted the first boat at the inspection Station in Meyers. The powerboat was coming to Lake Tahoe from Lake Pleasant, Ariz. Discovered on the boat’s hull were some 100 invasive mussels, many suspected to be alive. Inspectors treated and killed the mussels during the decontamination process, but the infestation was so large that inspectors could not remove all the mussels from the boat’s hull and other hard-to-reach areas. The watercraft was not allowed to launch.

In the second case, inspectors in Truckee intercepted a small nonmotorized sailboat that contained approximately 20 dead mussels. The mussels were found inside of the sailboat’s keel locker on the hull. The owner stated the boat had been out of the water for about four years, and that he had unknowingly purchased the boat with the mussels already onboard.

“This is a stark reminder of why inspections are mandatory at Lake Tahoe. Aquatic invasive species pose a serious threat and we rely on the hard work and diligence of our boat inspection team to protect Lake Tahoe and other water bodies,” said Chris Kilian, Tahoe Resource Conservation District.

Both vessels were intercepted by inspectors before they could launch into local water bodies.

Both boats were quarantined for further inspection and decontamination.

Regarding the boat from Arizona, the mussels lived through the 700-mile, 12-hour trip to Tahoe.

Deemed to be a high-risk vessel, CDFW required a mechanic to take apart the powerboat’s drive to remove potentially live mussels. The craft was returned to Arizona, and never launched in Lake Tahoe.

The sailboat was eventually cleared from quarantine and allowed to launch at Donner Lake.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s aquatic resources program manager Dennis Zabaglo said, “In both instances, inspectors on the front-line kept watercraft from potentially harming Lake Tahoe’s fragile ecosystem. These incidents underscore the need for boaters to arrive at inspection stations with their craft clean, drained, and dried.”

In the last 11 years, the Lake Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program has been successful in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species into Lake Tahoe and other waterbodies in the Region. Once introduced, species like quagga and zebra mussels would have devastating consequences for the ecosystem and economy.