Biologists discovered the invasive zebra mussels species in Lake Austin this August 2017, following their discovery in Lake Travis in June 2017. After finding a zebra mussel larva from a sample, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries and the City of Austin found “several half-inch adult zebra mussels on multiple marina floatation devices and a barge near the Walsh Boat Landing,” according to a TPWD news release. It is unknown thus far if the zebra mussels are from downstream spread from Lake Travis or whether an infested boat or boats came into Lake Austin.
“Passive downstream spread is a concern any time we have an infested reservoir, but boats can move adult mussels to a lake much quicker,” said Monica McGarrity, TPWD aquatic invasive species team lead.
Originally from Eurasia, zebra mussels can rapidly reproduce and there is no known treatment for them. The mussels are extremely sharp and can eventually cover beaches and shoreline rocks, as well as clog public-water intakes and damage boats.
It is illegal to possess or transport zebra mussels in Texas, whether they are dead or alive, and all boaters are required to drain all water before approaching or leaving a body of water. This includes kayaks, canoes, sailboats, ski boats, and any other water vessel.
Inland Fisheries Regional Director Brian Van Zee said, “We really need all boaters to be diligent in their ‘clean, drain and dry’ efforts before leaving a lake. All boaters need to remove their drain plugs and be sure to pump as much water out of the ballast tanks, livewells and bilges as possible because zebra mussel larvae can survive in very little water.”
McGarrity said, “We want folks to be aware of zebra mussels in Lake Austin and to let us know if they’re finding them in other areas of the lake.”