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County warns public about zebra mussel risk

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 by Tai Moses

The zebra mussel, a tiny freshwater mollusk the size of a fingernail, has successfully colonized at least 15 Texas lakes, including Lake Travis, Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake. The shoreline parks along Lake Travis have experienced such an explosive growth of the extremely invasive shellfish that the county parks department is warning the public to beware of the hazards posed by their shells, which are sharp enough to cut skin and even lightweight clothing. There have already been dozens of mussel-related injuries reported this summer, most of them minor. The county advises people recreating in lakes and waterways to wear water shoes or other closed-toe footwear and use caution near rocks, buoys and other hard surfaces below the waterline that may be covered with mussels. The non-native zebra mussels have crowded out native mussels and clogged the water intakes of power plants, which spend millions of dollars trying to eliminate the unwelcome visitors. To date, there is no known method for large-scale eradication of the zebra mussel.

Photo courtesy of NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

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