Quagga Mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis), have recently been discovered in the River Wraysbury, near Heathrow Airport. The mussels were found by Environment Agency Staff conducting routine water quality tests on the river, and the mussels were positively identified on 1st October 2014.
These Mussels were soon famous, making headlines in the newspapers, mentioned on the radio and websites and twitter as well. But why the fuss? What sort of a threat can these tiny little mussels pose?
The Quagga Mussel is generally the size of a thumbnail, but can grow to be up to 4cm long. The mussels are prolific breeders and a fully mature female mussel is capable of producing up to one million eggs per year. The mussels can filter out large quantities of nutrients and in order to breed quickly, so they can significantly reduce native populations and affect freshwater ecosystems. The Quagga Mussel can outcompete native mussels. This alters the ecology of the habitats it invades. It can also block water pipes and smother boats’ hulls.
So, how do we stop the Quagga Mussel spreading? The answer is simple, Check, Clean Dry.
Everyone, but particularly, anglers and boaters can play an important part in stopping the spread, and everyone is urged to follow the ‘check, clean, dry’ approach and thoroughly clean any equipment used in water sports or recreation in hot water.
CHECK your equipment and clothing for living organisms. Pay particular attention to areas that are damp or hard to inspect.
CLEAN and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them.
DRY Dry all equipment and clothing – some species can live for many days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere.
For more information on the Check clean dry campaign please follow the link here.
For more information, or if you think you have found a Quagga Mussel and need to report it, please visit this webpage.