The hunt is on for something called a “quagga mussel” in the Pueblo Reservoir. They’re nasty creatures that stick to everything they get close to. That’s why if you plan on taking your boat out on the reservoir it will have to be inspected first.
Lake Pueblo State Park officials say recent testing confirmed the ongoing presence of quagga mussel veligers at the reservoir. Veligers are the microscopic offspring of the adult mussels. No fully development mussels have been found at the reservoir, but the presence of the veligers does show that the mussels are reproducing.
Officials are asking boaters to help them. They are reminding people to always check their boats before they enter and leave any body of water. Officials say all vessels need to cleaned, drained, and dry.
“These aquatic nuisance species need water to live in, including the zebra and quagga mussel. So if you don’t have any water in there you are not going to transfer them somewhere else,” said Lake Pueblo State Park Resource Technician Doug Youngers.
Because the offspring was discovered, this means the mandatory inspections at Lake Pueblo State Park will continue. Every boat that enters and leaves will be inspected and even denominated if necessary.
All boats that have launched on any Colorado Lake or reservoir where mussels have been detected, including Lake Pueblo, are required to pass an inspection before launching at a new location. Any boat that is taken in waters out of state also have to pass a state-certified inspection for aquatic nuisance species before launching in any Colorado lake, reservoir, or waterway.
People are even encouraged to wash everything that goes in the water, including fishing gear and inner tubes. Plants can also transfer the mussel offspring, so people are asked to remove all plants from boats and trailers.
Quagga mussels are similar to the zebra mussel. They are both an invasive mussel, and are considered nuisance species. They can grow into an infestation if not treated early. That’s why Colorado has an early detection program, hoping to prevent these mussels from becoming a major problem.
Testing originally found a zebra mussel veliger in Pueblo Reservoir in 2007. Monitoring also detected both quagga and zebra veligers in 2008 and 2009. No veligers were found in 2010. The most recent quagga mussel veliger was collected during routine sampling in May and confirmed by microscopy and DNA testing conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.