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Focus on Earth
by Artemis
Beltane 2002, Vol 1-3
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It's Time to Get Your Boat Out -- But Beware!

It's a lot of fun canoeing down your favorite river or on your favorite lake, and here in Wisconsin it's time to get your boat out and get it ready for water fun.

But Beware! It's not just you and your boat in that water -- there are a whole array of stowaways that may be boating with you! This is true here according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Wisconsin Lakes Book on Exotic Species.

zebra mussels
spiny water fleas on a fishing line
spiny water fleas
Exotic species are plants and animals that are not native to the area. In Wisconsin, exotic fish were intentionally introduced in our lakes back in the 1800s. Unfortunately, many became problems for our aquatic habitats. Carp, for example, are no longer stocked nor are they welcome, because they cause problems with spawning sites for other fish.

Natural communities are suffering major disruptions because of many exotics being introduced to their new environment. The zebra mussel, Eurasian water milfoil, the ruffe, and spiny water fleas are examples of recent newcomers. There is a cause for concern because these exotics are very destructive and aggressive aquatic invaders. They stow away on boats and fishing gear and are easily transported from one water body to the next. The biggest problems are that they can rarely be eradicated once they infest a lake, and that all it takes is just one boater's carelessness to infest a water body.

purple loosestrife

Fortunately, there are precautions that one can take to prevent the spread of these exotic plants and animals. Please take the following precautions when transferring your boat:

  • Remove aquatic plants and animals from all parts of your boat, trailer and accessory equipment. Make sure to dispose of this material in the garbage either at home or at a handy garbage can near the water access area.
  • Drain your boat including the bilges, live wells, and other containers before leaving the water access area.
  • Do not transfer water from one water body to another or release live bait or aquarium pets into any waters.
  • Wash your boat and trailer thoroughly with tap water when you get home. Make sure to flush water through your motor's cooling system, live wells, and other areas that hold water.
  • Allow your boat to dry for a minimum of 3 days in a sunny location before transferring it into a new water body.

Have a great summer in and out of the water, and keep your boat clean of these rascals so we can enjoy the lakes for years to come!

Your help is appreciated. It's up to you now!

Some Aquatic Exotic Species in Wisconsin
from Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine,
"Clean boats, clean waters"
Round goby (Neogobius melanostomus)
Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)
Rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus)
White perch (Morone americana)
Flowering rush (Botumus umbellatus)
Curly-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)
Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)
Ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus)
Spiny water flea (Bythotrephes cederstoemi)
Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)
Rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax)
Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)
water milfoil

Graphics Credits
+ zebra mussel, spiny water fleas, purple loosestrife, water milfoil, ruffe courtesy of Exotic Species Graphics Library

+ common carp, photo copyright © Leonard Lovshin.. All rights reserved. Used with permission. From "Nonindigenous Aquatic Species," courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.
+ boating graphics, courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live

Further Resources
+ Great Lakes Information Network--Invasive Species
+ Field Guide to Aquatic Exotic Species

+ Aquatic Nuisance Species
+ Exotic Species and their effects on the Great Lakes
+ Eight Myths About Aquatic Species

common carp
Copyright © Leonard Lovshin.. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Source: "Nonindigenous Aquatic Species," U.S. Geological Survey.
Contributors retain the copyright to their work; please do not take art or words without permission. All other graphics and reference materials are used and attributed as per the Fair Use Provision of The Copyright Act and individual terms of use.
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