Posted on Friday Aug 3, 2012 at 8:11 AM
Tony, what is even more scary/sadder than that is thinking about the microscopic velliger (larval) stage of the zebra mussel. These larvae are present in high densities in infested waters, and are VERY prone to being transported in bilge water, livewells, or any nook/cranny in a boat or motor. I would guess the way you got so many shelled mussels in your lower unit is because they were sucked into the impellar as velligers and found a spot to hang on and mature into shelled juvenile mussels.
The situation is dire to say the least. My personal opinion (I am NOT representing ODWC with this thought) is that even the most strict regulations will not prevent the spread of these aquatic nuisance species. Your experience testifies to that, and you are a conscientious/concerned avid angler who knows there is a serious problem and cannot even combat the ANS risks through education and intense cleaning/prevention. Can you imagine the probability of ANS transport/introductions by an average weekend party boater with no knowledge/concern regarding ANS? Heck, we see examples of people who simply do not know/care trying to launch a boat with mature zebra mussels covering the entire boat hull (like the guy who tried launching his infested vessel at Texoma a couple years ago). No amount of boater education will prevent the spread of ANS...best case scenario is to educate enough folks to slow the spread.
Our GLOBAL world today really magnifies this problem. Unintentional introductions of non-native species is happening every day in every habitat (aquatic and terrestrial). All we really can do is hope that native species can overcome these invaders and remain the dominant species in their native systems.
This is not to say that we should just give up and not even try to wash our vessels, or take precautions, or help educate other anglers/boaters. We should in fact do ALL WE CAN to prevent the spread of ANS. I just think that it will happen in spite of the efforts of concerned anglers and boaters.