Add the spiny water flea to Lake George’s collection of invasive species
Posted by: Melanie Chapman
Published on: August 5th, 2012 at 12:00 PM
After invading Great Sacandaga Lake, the Hudson River and the Champlain Canal, the spiny water flea has found its way to Lake George. And now, the invasive species has a clear path to make its way into Champlain Lake.
Invasive species such as the spiny water flea and the zebra mussel are generally introduced to waters by careless boaters. They attach themselves to boats and equipment, and if not washed away properly, gain entry when those boats are launched in new areas.
Unfortunately, the effects of these ecological additions can be horrendous. In the case of the water flea — which is originally from Asia — the intruder has the potential to outcompete native fish for food, essentially threatening their presence in the invaded body of water.
Seeing as Lake George actually drains directly into Lake Champlain, the chances that this species will be kept out of Champlain are slim. At the moment, the Lake Champlain Basin Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Task Force is doling out recommendations on how to slow this inevitable spread.
But basically, what it comes down to is educating boaters on the importance of properly cleaning their boats and equipment before packing up and moving from one body of water to another. Debates are ongoing about whether or not mandatory boat washes should be imposed.
Of course, sport fishermen, who are used to picking up and launching wherever they please, are opposing such a requirement, due to inconvenience. Maybe when their equipment is ruined by swarms of spiny fleas, they’ll start to realize that there are legitimate repercussions for introducing invasive species to any water.
Other invasive species that currently reside in Lake George include the zebra mussel, the Asian clam, the Eurasian watermifoil and the curly-leaf pondweed. An effort to eradicate one of these species alone, from only parts of the lake, has cost more than $1 million.
Do you think that there should be requirements in place forcing boaters to wash their boats before launching them in a lake or other body of water? Or are you with the fishermen, pushing for convenience over the safety and stability of an ecosystem?
Does it bother you at all that — after several years and the introduction of multiple invasive species — a simple requirement like this has not been put in place? At Saratoga Lake, there are signs warning boaters about the dangers of zebra mussels. But there’s no one making sure that the species isn’t being picked up and carried around.