WIBAUX, Mont. - Watercraft inspectors came across an unusual and unique situation Monday.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) reports that inspectors at the Wibaux inspection station intercepted a motorboat entering Montana that had just come out of Lake Lida in Minnesota that morning after two days on the water.
Inspectors found tiny mussels that were clinging to the motor, transom and hull hydrostatically rather than attached with byssal threads.
“Invasive mussels have byssal threads they use to attach to underwater surfaces. The threads or “hairs” are an adaptation found on invasive zebra and quagga mussels but are not found on North America’s native freshwater mussel species,” FWP said. “Invasive mussels can move from one waterbody to another when their threads attach to the hull or motors of trailered watercraft or when microscopic mussel larvae floats in standing water inside vessels.”
In this case, the mussels were hydrostatically bonded to the motorboat, and the mussels maintained that bond even after the water had dried.
It is presumed that the invasive mussels were floating near the Lake Lida boat ramp and were able to cling to the boat as it was loaded onto the trailer.
“It alarming that this boat had mussels attached after only two days in the water,” said Zach Crete, AIS Prevention Coordinator for FWP. “Normally, a boat would have to be moored in the water for several days before mussels would have time to attach.”
A viability test was performed on several mussels, and it was found some were still alive and siphoning water.
FWP staff is reminding anyone transporting motorized or nonmotorized boats into Montana that an inspection is required before launching, and stopping at all open watercraft inspection stations is required. Failing to stop at an inspection station can result in a fine of up to $500.