Alien Invasion

Keep a watchful eye out for invaders

European green crabs and lionfish and water chestnuts, oh my! What do they all have in common? They are invasive species in the United States.

invasive species

Invasive species (also called exotic, non-native and alien) are plants and animals that invade an environment where they don’t belong. If they don’t have any natural predators in their new home, they can cause damage by consuming native species, competing for food and space, or introducing disease. (Some can even damage our boats!) There are over 4,500 species of invasive plants and animals that have established populations in the U.S., and this number increases yearly.

zebra mussels, invasive species, propeller

How do they ‘move’?

Large ships can transport invasive species in their ballast water, while fouling organisms such as barnacles, seaweeds and mussels can find a new home by hitching a ride on your boat, on items you use in the water and even your clothes. They also can attach themselves to plastics or other debris that float with ocean currents around the globe.

5 ways boaters can stop the spread:

  • Know what to look for. Learn to identify invasive species in your area and report sightings to the proper authorities.
  • Remove all visible vegetation from your boat, propeller, anchor, trailer and any other equipment in the water.
  • Drain and flush the motor livewell, bilge and transom wells with hot water.
  • Spray your boat and trailer with high-pressure water and then rinse with hot water.
  • Dry your boat and equipment for at least 5 days before entering a different body of water.

The hunt for zebra mussels:

Zebra mussels, invasive species

If you boat in freshwater, you may be familiar with this invasive mollusk. Native to the Black and Caspian Sea, zebra mussels were first introduced into North America in the ballast water of ocean-going vessels, and have continued to spread to numerous lakes by overland transport, on hulls, anchors, and trailers.

Lake Harriet Yacht Club in Minneapolis, MN is committed to the fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS), in particular, the ever-productive zebra mussel which has been found as close as one mile away.

In preparation for the ILYA MC Invite taking place July 15-17, the club is working diligently to do everything they can to prevent the spread of these invasive species. "To protect our lake from invaders we have been working extensively with the Minneapolis Park Board to come up with an action plan for our regatta, which will have more traveling boats on the lake than in living memory," says Henry Chestnutt, who is helping coordinate this Gold Level Clean Regatta. 

In order to participate, each boat will undergo rigorous inspection by park AIS specialists, including a heated pressure washing station, and will be sniffed down by a K9 team specially trained to find invasive species! All of the water from the pressure washing station is collected and filtered. 

invasive species prevention

Sailors for the Sea applauds the efforts of Lake Harriet Yacht club to prevent spreading of invasive species in addition to all of the sustainability work being done to make this a gold level event!