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  #31  
Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

I dunno, I'm a scientist but not a biologist. But something tells me that when a pervasive species enters a new ecosystem, things can be thrown terribly out of balance for a long time, and unexpected things can happen (some good, some bad).

The only true way to stop pollution is the stop polluting. If we keep dumping the same toxins into the bay and rely on some species like zebra mussels to clean it up, the toxins may not be disappearing, they might be just be getting concentrated in a different location. And then, once a predator for the mussels does come along, you could find those toxins doing harm to other species and maybe even working their way into the human food chain.

Cleanup efforts are not cheap and do not give the immediate gratification that our video game culture has grown to expect. But as someone who works for a large industrial company, I feel an obligation to fund some efforts to figure out how to assist nature in breaking down and safely disposing of the products that otherwise make all our lives a little better.
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  #32  
Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Stopping pollution is easier said than done. Keep in mind that every time a newborn baby enters this part of the world, that baby poops in Chesapeake Bay. It does this many, many times during it's lifetime, and it produces offspring that compound the problem. Now, that person, whom will likely live more than 70 years, requires a significant volume of food in order to survive. The person will likely consume a huge quantity of beef, pork, poultry, vegetables, fruits, etc..., animals that produce lots of nutrients that will wash into the bay's tributaries, and eventually end up in the bay.

This process, reproduction, which is part of human behavior, is not something that will go away. It will continue throughout time, and you must take into consideration that human populations are still increasing worldwide - not just in the Mid-Atlantic region. As those populations grow, each and every person born poops into the bay. This is not going to stop - ever. We keep building more and more homes, and more and more sewage treatment plants to cope with the population expansion. Those treatment plants cannot possibly keep up with the population increases, thus the waters of the bay and its tributaries will continue to worsen. This isn't rocket science - it's just common sense.

Many years ago I published an article about the bay's water quality and why it would never get better. I cited as an example the Susquehanna River, which at the time was listed as the most polluted river in the nation. When the article was published there was approximately 130 sewage treatment plants on the Susquehanna River between NY and the head of Chesapeake Bay. The last line in the article stated "If the good people of Harrisburg, PA do not flush their toilets, Havre de Grace, MD would not have any drinking water." The editor didn't like the line, but he agreed that this was indeed the case. Someone wrote a letter to the editor saying this just revealed how well those sewage treatment plants work. In reality, the plants, nearly all of them, were running at more than 200 percent over their rated capacity. The treatment at that time was huge doses of chlorine to kill the bacteria prior to discharging the water into the river.

A few years ago, when Maryland was experiencing a horrendous drought, the city of Frederick, MD considered piping its waste water into the city reservoir, which at the time was nearly bone dry. An early season hurricane solved their problem, but that water was nothing but a muddy torrent that flowed in from the creeks feeding the lake.

Good luck,

Gary
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  #33  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by travlineasy View Post
Stopping pollution is easier said than done. Gary
Hay Travel, never thought of it in those terms. I think I would enjoy sitting down to a beer with you and listing to you speak about this and other issues. However this might lead to a couple of beers, and then I might have to P
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  #34  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

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Originally Posted by travlineasy View Post
Stopping pollution is easier said than done...
I never said it would be easy.

What you describe is the classic scenario of human overpopulation, which Mother Nature will fix for us (in a very unpleasant way) unless we can devise waste management strategies to fix it ourselves.

One prediction that you can take to the bank: We will not fix human overpopulation by overpopulating with another invasive species like zebra mussels. Everything must coexist in a delicate ecological balance, and gaining the knowledge and developing the effluent management strategies to pull that off will be costly. I believe in the capability of science to succeed in that over the long term, but oversimplified suggestions from cynical observers are much less likely to be successful.
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  #35  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Cynical - you betcha! Long term? Lets see now, the first studies of Chesapeake Bay were conducted in the 1890s, and from the little research I've done over the past 40 years, there has been at least one or more studies each year pertaining to the bay's water quality. So, how long are YOU willing to wait for the scientific world to solve the bay's problems? Would a couple more centuries do the trick? I don't think so.

Keep in mind there is a massive industry out there of scientists that love to keep those tax dollars flowing into their pocket while they study everything on the planet. They're gobbling down those federal grants as fast as they become available, and some of those studies are open ended. Yep, they're just like highway projects along I-95 - those orange and white barrels seem to always be there. If I recall, the first crab study was created by Governor William Donald Schaeffer back in 1984. Schaeffer called it his "Crab Action Plan." The study revealed that crabs were being systematically wiped out by commercial crabbers in Maryland and Virginia. The study took a couple years, cost about $1-million per year, and the MD-DNR and VMRC biologists are still studying those same crabs today. It took nearly a decade after the results were released before MD-DNR Fisheries Service took any action at all. The very first thing they did was to limit the recreational harvest. (Gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling, doesn't it!) Next, they added a new recreational crabbing license (tax) to generate funds to enhance the studies. A couple years later, the scientists decided that MD-DNR's actions didn't do anything, so the scientific community said maybe we should limit the commercial catch. DUH! So, they shortened the commercial and recreational seasons, and limited the commercial guys to 500 crab pots per license. Big deal.

So, a couple centuries from now, when the earth's population is on the brink of starvation, drinking recycled urine, and still pooping in Chesapeake Bay, let me know how all that scientific stuff works out. Hell, long before then you'll have a bay that is so overloaded with nutrients that you'll be planting corn in the main shipping channel.

Cheers,

Gary
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  #36  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

I read the thread fairly carefully, my confusion was what you meant. Anyhow, I agree, the introduction of Zebra mussels have very few benefits and many drawbacks. I live on a Finger Lake and the near shore swimming areas are mostly covered with various forms of aquatic weeds, hydrilla being the most troublesome locally. I cant remember the last time I found crayfish while swimming and cleaning the beach has taken on a whole new meaning in the last decade. In short, zebra mussels SUCK!

Brad

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Originally Posted by bobmcgov View Post
Re-read the thread, Kivalo. Travelineasy and Benesailor, specifically, have suggested zebras should be intentionally (or surreptitiously) introduced into the Chesapeake watershed as a means of improving water clarity. As an alternative to costly cleanup and pollution management programs. Ahaahaa. Exactly when has intentional or accidental introduction of invasive species gone as planned? Dingos, rabbits, or cane toads in Australia? Rats and goats in Hawaii? Tree snake in Guam? Lake trout in Yellowstone? I suppose you could make a case for the earthworm and European honeybee in the Americas; tho the Africanized bee is the flip side of that.

Distilled water is very clear, too. Absolutely sterile, nothing lives in it, but lovely to look at. Much of the 'murk' you see in estuaries is called nutrients, and its what the entire food chain rests upon. Near-shore game fish populations in the Finger Lakes have been hurt badly by the zebra mussel; I know lifelong fishermen who quit trying a decade ago, because the fishing has gotten so poor.

Any excess Bay algae or sludge that results from human activity ought to be brought down to healthy levels. The way to do that is by attacking point or distributed sources of pollution. Start with your own behavior: you got a quarter acre of luscious, weed-free bluegrass turf in front of your home? How much nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticide, and herbicide you dumping on that baby every year? How much of that ends up in the storm drains after a hard rain? Multiply by a few million, and there's the cause of much of the Bay's murk. You willing to address that? Or do you subscribe to the "Take a pill, feel better" approach? Rather than changing our diets or exercising regularly, let's just pop a handful of Lipitor and shove a stent in there. Hand me another cheeseburger! Let's not re-think our approach to suburban landscaping -- we'll just gamble with the entire Chesapeake ecosystem instead. *sigh*

It's insane to approach behavioral or environmental problems by throwing invasive species at them. The human record in this department, dating back about 20,000 years, is one dismal, unmitigated FAIL.
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  #37  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

It's weird that the head waters for the bay are adjacent to the finger lakes(utica, binghamton); yet zebra mussels haven't invaded this turf that i know of.
I once considered kayaking the entire length to see what it would be like.

I'm sure that there are a lot of environmental factors from NY PA and the bay basin that need to be addressed before the bay will be what some would considered acceptably clean.

We will see in the future
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  #38  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Brad, I don't know how old you are, but I suspect you are relatively young. I would also venture a guess that the lake you now swim in would be nothing more than a cesspool if it were not for zebra mussels. In fact, there probably would not be any forms of aquatic vegetation growing, and the water would likely be too toxic to swim in.

We have places in Chesapeake Bay where the hydrilla cannot grow because the sun no longer reaches the bottom of the bay, even in the shallows. At one time, the Potomac River was choked with hydrilla. Largemouth bass fishing there was incredible, so good in fact, that Bass Masters held at least one qualifying tournament there every year, and the highest weights ever recorded came from the Potomac River. It was also fairly dense in the upper bay tributaries, Gunpowder, Bush, Chester, etc..., which prompted BASS to hold their Bass Masters Classic in the upper Chesapeake.

Hydrilla, which arrived with the aquarium trade from southeast Asia, if I recall correctly, and got its start somewhere in south Florida. The grass is very resistant to most everything, but like all SAVs it provides a great nursery area for juvenile fish of various species. It does a pretty good job of keeping the water clean as well, filtering out much of the suspended particular matter.

Back in the 1960s, MD-DNR decided to attempt to kill off the hydrilla that had overwhelmed the Northeast River, situated near the head of Chesapeake Bay. They tried various products, copper sulfate, and at least one new product, 24D. The scientists did test strips about 100 yards long and 100-feet wide, seeding grass beds near some of the marinas that were bitterly complaining about the overabundance of the vegetation during the height of boating season.

Well, it worked. In fact, it worked so well that for the next 40 years there wasn't a blade of grass to be found in the entire Northeast River and the adjacent Susquehanna Flats. The bottom was nothing but a mud pit. DNR transformed one of the world's best largemouth bass fisheries into a muddy-bottomed desert where nothing could survive. There was no place for juvenile fish to hide from predators, stripers no longer had shad of any form to feed upon, the freshwater clams suffocated because the grass was no longer there to filter storm run-off, and the overall water quality went down the tubes within just a few years. Yep, those scientists did a real, bang-up job.

About 2000 is when the 24D toxins were either buried in silt and mud, or they just went away. Soon after that the first sprouts of hydrilla were seen along the shallow channel edges of the Northeast River. A few years later, freshwater clams began showing up on the Susquehanna Flats, the grass began to grow, the bass fishery began to rebound and fair numbers of striped bass once again roamed the channel edges in search of juvenile shad. The water quality in areas where the clams and grass abound is relatively clear, often with summer visibilities to 5 feet, which in this part of the world is really good. Just outside those areas, underwater visibilities may be 5 inches at best.

Count your lucky stars, Brad. At least you have water clean enough for swimming. It has been more than 4 decades since the upper Chesapeake's beaches were closed because of pollution. The only beaches still open for swimming are at Maryland state parks south of Baltimore - locations where water quality is still lousy, but the state would never admit to that because it may drive tourists away. Ironically, MD-DNR tried to blame the high fecal-coliform bacteria count in the bay's upper reaches on waterfowl. Yep, the water is polluted because of those damned ducks, geese and swans. Oh, it was one of their scientists that made that statement, too. Just makes you feel good all over, doesn't it?

Gary
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Last edited by travlineasy; 04-11-2013 at 03:36 PM.
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  #39  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

{Count your lucky stars, Brad. At least you have water clean enough for swimming. It has been more than 4 decades since the upper Chesapeake's beaches were closed because of pollution. The only beaches still open for swimming are at Maryland state parks south of Baltimore - locations where water quality is still lousy, but the state would never admit to that because it may drive tourists away. Ironically, MD-DNR tried to blame the high fecal-coliform bacteria count in the bay's upper reaches on waterfowl. Yep, the water is polluted because of those damned ducks, geese and swans. Oh, it was one of their scientists that made that statement, too. Just makes you feel good all over, doesn't it? }---------------------------------------------
Well it looks like nature has, as usual, found a way....

(add in the good old' http : / /)
nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/mollusks/zebramussel/

Reference 1 Ref. Number: 24106
Author: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Date: 2008
Title: Zebra Mussel Found on Susquehanna River at Conowingo Dam in Maryland.
Publisher: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Comments Found alive inside a hydroelectric plant water intake.

Soon to be cleaning up MD and other waters near you!
Blake
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Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Wonderful discussion sailors. Travlin appears to be somewhat passionate about the subject, and I like - though don't necessarily agree on - all his points save for "eels". Yech.

I am of two minds about the mussels. As a diver, I love 'em and hate 'em. I have seen days in the St Lawrence River near Brockville ON or Alexandria Bay NY where the viz has been in excess of 100 feet. Gin clear water that incidentally in late August is so warm you can do 100+ foot dives in a thin wetsuit. The irony of course is though you can see 100 feet, everything you see including the shipwreck you paid charter fees to dive, is absolutely covered in the things. You kind of have to train yourself to filter the mussels out of your vision and imagine the scene free of them. They make the puzzle of reassembling a busted up shipwreck in your mind even tougher.

They are absolutely everywhere in the Great Lakes and River areas I have dived. I can't remember at what depth they begin to fade away, but I think they are mostly gone by 160-180 feet.

As has been said, they are nasty to step on, and hell on either wetsuit or drysuit diving gloves. They do clean the water and make it nice for swimming. It's not long ago that I would not have considered swimming in Lake Ontario, now on calm days as I leave my harbour, you could read the date on a quarter at 30 feet. They have upset the ecological balance, and terrifically alters fish populations for good and bad. In the end I think nature sorts herself out. I don't think I am in favour of introducing them on purpose, because that has never worked out with any such introduction, but I can understand the frustration when a formerly beautiful body of water becomes a huge dead zone.

As for the original question, I've never had a problem with the little monsters clogging up the boat plumbing. Perhaps it's because I use my boat far too often for that to happen?
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