Lake Austin is the latest Texas lake to be hit with zebra mussels.
Invasive zebra mussels are becoming more of a problem for Texas. Now, Texas Parks and Wildlife have confirmed the discovery of mussels in another major reservoir, Lake Austin.
In some ways, it’s not too surprising considering another upstream reservoir, Lake Travis, was confirmed to have a reproducing population a month earlier.
The Lake Austin discovery came after a collected plankton sample test showed a single zebra mussel larva according to a release from Texas Parks and Wildlife. A subsequent search on August 9 of hard surfaces in the lake turned up half-inch long adult zebra mussels on a barge and marina floatation equipment.
The mussels were found near Walsh Boat Landing according to a press release. Right now, it’s not known if the lake is harboring a reproducing population like neighboring Lake Travis.
“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,” Texas Parks and Wildlife aquatic invasive species team lead Monica McGarrity said in the release.
Zebra mussels spread can spread quickly by hitching a ride on a boat hull. Their larva can spread even more easily via livewells and bilges because they need little water to survive.
Officials aren’t sure if the Lake Austin mussels are a result of a natural spread from Lake Travis or a boat that didn’t take proper precautions of cleaning their boats before moving to another body of water.
“Both Lake Austin and Lake Travis have a lot of boating traffic and a lot of use,” Inland Fisheries regional director Brian Van Zee said in the release. “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.”
For now, officials will continue to monitor the situation to determine if there is a breeding population in the lake. They will also be working to educate boaters in the Lake Austin area about cleaning and drying their boats properly before moving them to another body of water.
More information on proper precautions against zebra mussels can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.