SPICER –– To look at it, the one tiny zebra mussel that was found on a dock on the southeast side of Green Lake on Monday isn’t much to look at.
After being passed around a few times and stored in a baggie with a bit of water, the adult zebra mussel –– most likely dead –– was starting to stink by Wednesday.
“He’s not camera shy,” said Dave Coahran, area fisheries supervisor with the Department of Natural Resources, who was the keeper of the zebra mussel at the DNR office in Spicer.
But the presence of this one zebra mussel was enough to launch the DNR into a rapid response Tuesday with five individuals searching docks, rocks, boat lifts and rafts for any sign of any other adult zebra mussel.
They came up empty-handed.
“We didn’t find anything that looked like a zebra mussel,” said DNR Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist Nick Brown, who was one of five individuals snorkeling around possible zebra mussel hide-outs for about six hours.
With gusty northwest winds “crashing into the docks,” Brown said it wasn’t easy looking through the turbid water, but he and the others also used their hands to feel for the hard, nubby mussels that typically latch onto things submerged in lakes.
Brown said he’s confident they did a “really thorough job” looking for zebra mussels but there were no more to be found.
Brown will be back on Green Lake again today but wasn’t sure what direction the investigation will take next.
That direction will come from DNR aquatic invasive species officials in St. Paul.
In a brief telephone interview Wednesday, Ann Pierce, DNR section manager for the Division of Ecological and Water Resources, said the continued search could include searching additional areas for adult zebra mussels or taking water samples to test for the microscopic veligers –– baby zebra mussels.
Pierce said although it was confirmed that a zebra mussel was found in Green Lake, she said that does not necessarily mean Green Lake will be designated as being infested at this time.
That will depend on what else is found during the survey this week, she said.
If there are no more adult zebra mussels found, she said it could mean there is not an established adult population now and the DNR could put Green Lake into a “precautionary” status with continued monitoring.
Brown said the homeowners on Green Lake he has talked to this week are taking news of the zebra mussel “in stride.”
The process of investigating and analyzing the zebra mussel condition in the lake is still in the “early stages” and he said people aren’t getting too worried “until we learn more.”
Coahran said now that there has been a confirmed case of a zebra mussel in Green Lake, he hopes boaters will be more diligent about following laws that are designed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to other lakes.
He said enforcement officials have told him there are “more violations out there than there should be.”
Coahran said he hopes homeowners will take time to examine their own boat docks and lifts to search for zebra mussels.
Any suspected cases can be brought to the fisheries office, located on Kandiyohi County Road 8 in Spicer.