Invasive Intruders – What You Can Do
By Guy Middleton, Lake Manager
The most recent invasive to the Adirondacks, the Spiny Water Flea, was discovered in Lake George last year and prior to that in the Lake Champlain Canal system and in Great Sacandaga Lake in 2008. Now the Upper Saranac Foundation has begun testing it waters for this new invasive intrude. This week, the Upper Saranac Foundation in cooperation with Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP), swept its deeper waters looking for the Spiny Water Flea. Samples that were collected have been brought to Paul Smiths College for analyses. The USF intends to tests its waters two to three times per year.
Native to Eurasia, the Spiny Water Flea is an aquatic invasive zooplankton that arrived to North America by way of the Great Lakes via trans-oceanic ships. Although it is not clear the full extent of the water fleas impact, it will have an influence on the ecosystem and harms the native fish population. The Spiny Water Flea feeds on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton that are food for fish and other native aquatic organisms, putting them in direct competition for this important food source. It eats the same organisms that smaller fish feed on and some officials fear it could devastate the area fisheries. Spiny Water Fleas may be moved between water bodies on boats, fishing tackle or other aquatic gear. In warmer water temperatures they can hatch, grow to maturity and lay eggs in as little as two weeks. Contrarily, “resting” eggs of spiny water fleas can remain dormant for long periods of time prior to hatching. Although it is less than ½ inch in length the tail spines of this invasive will hook on fishing lines and foul fishing gear.
Ways to prevent its spread:
It is very important that boaters, anglers and other recreational enthusiasts take precautions to avoid transporting this and other invasive species, particularly after leaving waters known to have an aquatic invasive species. Good boat hygiene is critical; boats that have been washed with warm, soapy water or mild bleach are less likely to spread non-natives. It is also important to clean all fishing tackle, nets and bait buckets after use and drain water from boats, live wells, bilges and transom wells while on land. Currently there are no practical means to eradicate Spiny Water Fleas, so limiting their spread is the only way to prevent their impacts on native aquatic communities.
The Upper Saranac Foundation continues to be proactive in preventing the introduction of Spiny Water Flea and other invasive species. The USF largest initiative is to increase public education and outreach among residents and visitors to promote invasive awareness and prevention. This is done through signage, local laws, the USF web page and Facebook, news releases, newsletters and brochures. We continue to monitor the presence and movement of invasive species in other watersheds around USL. This will help us determine the pathways, what is threatening USL and the rate of movement of threatening invasive species.