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Great Lakes Article:

Mussels will change Glen Lake
B y Chris Olson
Leelanau Enterprise
April 15, 2004

Until last year, it was thought that the Glen lakes had escaped the fate of other inland lakes in Leelanau County and most of the lakes in Michigan. It had no zebra mussels.

That’s no longer true.

The zebra mussel, a non-native species that has slowly spread throughout the Great Lakes basin, is fast becoming a part of the food chain in Big Glen and Little Glen lakes.

Golf balls with zebra mussels on them were found last year by members of the Glen Lake Lake Association in Fisher and Little Glen lakes. The arrival of zebras was later confirmed by the staff of the Leelanau Conservancy Watershed Council, which monitors water quality in Lake Leelanau, Glen lakes, Cedar Lake, Lime Lake and Little Traverse Lake.

Tim Keilty, water quality specialist with the Conservancy, estimates that zebras had been present in the lake for about a year. He said the existence of the mussels was already established in all other large inland lakes in Leelanau County.

Keilty and the watershed staff are working on ways to control zebra mussels—or at least monitor them—once established in a body of water.

Glen Lake was the last lake in Leelanau to be infected largely due to the efforts of the Glen Lake Lake Association.

Ed Rickers, a member of the association, said the group has maintained an active program to keep invasive species such as the zebra mussel and the Eurasian watermilfoil plant out of Glen Lake. From spring into fall, two volunteers were posted at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources boat launch off Day Forest Rd.—some times for 12 hours straight. They helped to wash down boats and trailers before allowing them to launch, and warned boat owners about the spread of invasive species.

But as it has throughout Michigan, zebra mussels found their way into the lakes, likely attached to the underside of a boat or motor well.

According to Mark Breederland, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Agent with the Grand Traverse Michigan State University Extension Office, zebra mussels can live for several days out of the water in cool, humid conditions.

“Unfortunately once the zebra mussels are established in a body of water, they will continue to grow in colonies based on the availability food,” he said. Breederland said there is no known way to turn back the clock on mussels once in infected lakes.

The mussels feed on tiny, living particles in water. On the positive side, they have a tendency to increase water clarity.

But their long-term effect on a lakes’ food chain has yet to be fully determined.

“Eventually once the colonies are built up, the zebra mussels will become a food source for other fish. Yellow perch in particular seem to feed on them, so you could see an increase in that population,” he said.

The mussels will have a nuisance impact on humans, including clogging up water intake pipes and covering the lake bottom with their sharp shells.

“The basic message is things will change, but the fishery won’t be decimated,” Breederland said. “Is it a good thing? No. After all, this is a non-native, invasive species, and they were never intended to be in this part of the world.”

The round goby fish, another invasive species, is also gaining attention. While the small fish have not moved into area inland lakes, Breederland said they are becoming more common in Grand Traverse Bay.

“They have started into some of the larger downstate rivers, especially in the Flint area. They spread fast and eat other fish eggs. They could have a big impact if they get established in inland lakes around here,” he said.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.

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