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Jenna Stevenson 5/30/13 2nd Hr.

Invasive Species of the Great Lakes


Invasive species can be found all over the world including the Great Lakes. It is rare for them to be considered good for an environment because they are typically harmful. Invasive species have entered our Great Lakes and are endangering our native organisms. They not only have an impact on the ecosystem they have invaded, but also the economy. Agencies are currently studying past outbreaks and are searching for a preventative. Invasive species are non-natives, or not naturally found in certain environments, that cause economic or ecological harm. They can also be either a plant or an animal. They disturb an ecosystem and can change relationships among native species in that particular environment. Invasive species have become a major concern in the Great Lakes because of the various implications from their presence. Currently, there are more than 185 invasive species in the Great Lakes and once they have entered, they are extremely difficult to control their spread. Zebra mussels, spiny water flea, sea lamprey, and Asian carp are all examples of invasive species in the Great Lakes. Zebra mussels were introduced in 1988, in Lake St. Clair, and quickly spread throughout the Great Lakes. They originated from the Black and Caspian Sea. They are transported by water currents and can drift for miles before settling. Zebra mussels require something to attach to and warmer water temperatures to reproduce. They were introduced into the Great Lakes from ballast water being dumped by larger ocean vessels from Europe. A ship will carry large amounts of ballast water when there is no cargo and will dump it into the port as cargo is loaded. Zebra

mussels were taken from the Caspian Sea and dumped into our Great Lakes ports from the ballast water exchange. However, much of the recent dispersal is from recreational activities such as boating and fishing. They are filter feeders and are able to remove the plankton from large volumes of water. Zebra mussels are also algae feeders and have removed large quantities. Since the early 1990s, water clarity has increased in the Great Lakes. Some people believe the increased visibility in the water makes the water cleaner, but all it has done is filter out all the algae that would normally be food for native organisms. Zebra mussels also attach themselves to native mussels making it impossible for the native mussel to function. All of our native mussels have disappeared in Lake St. Clair and the western basin of Lake Erie. Zebra mussels do not only have an environmental impact of the Great Lakes region but also an economic impact. In 1989, Monroe, a town in Michigan, lost its water supply for three days due to massive numbers of zebra mussels clogging the citys water-intake pipeline. Swimming areas in Lake Erie have had increased costs due to removing tons of mussels that washed up on beaches during storms. Consumers unfortunately have to pay the costs for the clean-up. Many fishing industries have been affected and various native fish that are crucial to the fishing industry have been killed off. This decreases the amount of fish they can sell to local restaurants and stores. Several industries and businesses are looking for a way to control or prevent future invasive species from entering the Great Lakes. There are multiple chemicals that kill zebra mussels but other organisms in the area would be poisoned as well. I do not believe that would be the best approach to killing the zebra mussels. The EPA is studying how existing invasive species have become established in the Great Lakes and this information will help prevent future invasions. The NOAA is developing

ecological forecasts that will improve policies, protocols, and barriers. The EPA and NOAA are taking the safest and most effective approach to prevent this problem. I believe the large cargo ships should not be allowed to dump ballast water at our ports. They should find a different way to balance out the weight during shipping. These methods would decrease the amount of zebra mussels and other invasive species from entering the Great Lakes. Invasive species have been introduced into our Great Lakes and have cause negative environmental and ecological impacts in this region. A prevention method is still underway as agencies study how these species have entered in the past so they can prevent future ones. Invasive species are extremely dangerous and can come from anywhere across the globe.

Work Cited
"Great Lakes Region." Great Lakes Region RSS. N.p., 2013. Web. 30 May 2013. http://www.regions.noaa.gov/great-lakes/?page_id=156 "Invasive Species." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 13 May 2011. Web. 30 May 2013. http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/invasive/ Shaw, Emily. "Invasive Species in the Great Lakes." Awesome Mitten. N.p., 25 Dec. 2012. Web. 30 May 2013. http://www.awesomemitten.com/outdoors/invasive-species/ "Zebra Mussel FAQs." Zebra Mussel FAQs. N.p., 14 Dec. 2012. Web. 30 May 2013. http://fl.biology.usgs.gov/Nonindigenous_Species/Zebra_mussel_FAQs/zebra_mussel_faqs.html "Zebra Mussel." USGS. N.p., 31 Jan. 2008. Web. 30 May 2013. http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/main.php?content=research_invasive_zebramussel&title=Invasive%20I nvertebrates0&