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article imageLake Ontario's Water Fleas

By KJ Mullins     May 13, 2007 in Environment
A personal source related to me someone he knows has watched Lake Ontario from his balcony for sometime. This year he has noticed that the birds aren't around. Or the weeds on the bottom of the lake. What is around are Zebra Mussels. Thousands of them.
Zebra Mussels are the fleas of the water. Sticking to anything it can, they drain the blood from their victims.
They came to the lake via the freighters that sail in bringing goods. Their suction-cup like mouths searching for food. And they found it among the waters of Lake Ontario.
The small creatures are taking over. If you drop a hard object into the water, wait a month and come back for it you'll see hundreds of the tiny mussels. That's how they clog up the pipes too. Over the past ten years they have cost taxpayers over $10 million to repair the damage they have inflicted on water intake pipes. That's not to mention the added costs for boat and cottage owners.
They ingest everything, just like vultures. Recent outbreaks bottom-dwelling botulism have even been linked to the vermin of the lake. That's because they retain pollutants in their tissues. Before their arrival the pollution would absorbed by zooplankton or settle into sediments.
One possible solution is also another disaster in the making. The goby feeds heavily on zebra mussels. They are also the prey of many sports fish. The problem is they are an aggressive sort who chase away smaller fish and eat their eggs.
additional resources:
http://www.on.ec.gc.ca/press/goby-invasion.html
http://www.on.ec.gc.ca/announce.cfm?ID=475&Lang=e
More about Zebra mussels, Lake ontario, Ecosystem
 
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