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Invasive spiny water flea is in Lake Champlain

July 14, 2012
By staff ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

The spiny water flea, an aquatic invasive species, has been found in the Champlain Canal and the Glens Falls Feeder Canal.

Two spiny water fleas were identified in a water sample taken north of Lock 9 in the Champlain Canal, and three specimens were identified in a water sample taken from the western end of the Glens Falls Feeder Canals, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Native to Eurasia, the spiny water flea feeds on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton that are foods for fish and other native aquatic organisms, putting them in competition for this food source. The tail spines of the spiny water flea can hook on fishing lines and foul fishing gear.

Spiny water fleas can have a huge impact on life in lakes and ponds due to their rapid reproduction. In warmer water temperatures, these animals can hatch, grow to maturity and lay eggs in as little as two weeks. Contrarily, "resting" eggs of spiny water fleas can remain dormant for long periods of time before hatching.

Spiny water fleas were previously confirmed in the Great Sacandaga Lake in 2008, Peck Lake in 2009, Stewarts Bridge Reservoir 2010 and Sacandaga Lake 2010.

To prevent the spread of spiny water fleas, the DEC recommends that people inspect and clean fishing and boating equipment and remove all mud, plants and other organisms that might be clinging to them. DEC also recommends that people dry their fishing and boating equipment before using it on another body of water. All such equipment, clothing and other gear should be dried completely before moving to another body of water. This may take a week or more depending upon the type of equipment, where it is stored and weather conditions. A basic rule of thumb is to allow at least 48 hours for drying most non-porous fishing and boating gear at relative humidity levels of 70 percent or less.

If it's not possible to dry the gear, the DEC recommends disinfecting your fishing and boating equipment before using the equipment in another body of water. Disinfection recommendations vary depending on the type of equipment and disease or of concern. People should be particularly aware of bilge areas, live wells and bait wells in boats, which are difficult to dry and can harbor invasive species.

The samples were collected on June 12 as part of the Lake Champlain Long-term Water Quality and Biological Monitoring Project. The identification of the spiny water flea was confirmed at the Lake Champlain Research Institute at SUNY Plattsburgh. The monitoring project is a cooperative effort by the New York and Vermont state departments of environmental conservation, with funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. SUNY Plattsburgh conducts field monitoring for the New York DEC.

The monitoring program recently expanded its sampling efforts into the Champlain Canal and the Glens Falls Feeder Canal. The expansion of the project aided the early detection of this invasive species, according to the DEC.



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