Shellfish Kept out of Lake Texoma

10-26-06 - A tiny shellfish has caused serious concerns at Lake Texoma. Thanks to an alert by a marina worker, wildlife officials say the lake avoided contamination that could have clogged local waterways.

Two weeks ago, a boat from Wisconsin arrived at Highport Marina. However, when workers were lifting it off the transport truck, they noticed some unusual: seashells attached to the boat transom.

After some internet research, the worker discovered the shells were zebra mussels, which is a tiny shellfish with black and white stripes. They were originally from the Baltic Ocean, but have made their way to the U.S.

The zebra mussel now plagues areas of the Midwest, mainly around the Mississippi and the Great Lakes. The females produce between 30,000 and one million eggs a year.

When the marina worker found the mussels, he reported it to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Officials said the mussels could have posed big problems for Texoma waterways. They also say the owner of the boat is responsible for the costs, but the marina in Wisconsin was supposed to clean the mussels before sending it to Lake Texoma.

The marina is now in the middle of stripping the boat. It will take a few weeks to bleach and power-wash it.

Tim Ray is the marina worker who discovered the zebra mussels. He will be honored by Texas Water Management in Austin during a special awards ceremony.

There are still no known cases of zebra mussels in the state of Texas.