Although spring was slow to arrive this year, yacht to know the aquatic invasive species team has already sprung into action in fight against aquatic invasive species! The mandatory inspection stations have started this year’s search for invasive species on watercraft entering Alberta and have already found the first mussels of 2018 on a sailboat headed for Ghost Lake. When canoe expect all of the stations to be open? They will all have their flashlights out to put a spotlight on these invasive hitchhikers by the end of May, so expect to be inspected!
…Yes it goes on and on my friends.
The thing with invasive species is that once they’re introduced to a habitat in which they are not native, they’re extremely difficult to eradicate, especially if that population has been there for a while AND it’s in the water.
The flowering rush, Butomus umbellatus, is one such species.
Bright and passionate individuals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are working to answer society’s most difficult questions and find solutions to our biggest challenges. The innovation, creativity and competitive advantage that comes with having a diverse workforce is more important than ever, yet women remain underrepresented in STEM.
In honour of International Day for Women and Girls in Science on February 11, our Chief Scientist Dr. Fred Wrona invited women from across the department to talk about their work and share their experiences as scientists. This is the first of three interviews celebrating the fabulous females in this field.
Meet Tanya Rushcall! An aquatic invasive species biologist with Alberta Environment and Parks. Continue reading
Who says horror stories can’t have happy endings? After nearly two years, the Texaco East Pond has been restocked and is open to fishing again. The popular local fishing hole was closed after an angler reported an unusual catch on June 23, 2015. This fishy find was in fact a black bullhead – a species of catfish – and the ecological impacts it had on the pond were devastating.
Okay, well goldfish may not kill you, but they can certainly kill our ecosystems if they are let loose in Alberta’s waters! Goldfish are showing up all over the province – and not just in pet stores or your aquarium at home.
Infestations have been found in storm water ponds at alarming rates over the last few years. How did they get there? People have been releasing their unwanted pets into the neighbourhood ponds behind their homes thinking this is more humane than other alternatives. Continue reading
Don’t even think about it mussels!
Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Yukon Territory have joined forces to prevent and manage aquatic invasive species and have formalized this commitment by signing a joint agreement to keep these threats at bay.
The Inter-provincial-territorial Agreement for Coordinated Regional Defence Against Invasive Species is a step towards enhanced partnerships between jurisdictions on both prevention and response of invasive species in Western Canada.
This summer, we asked Albertans to voluntarily have their boats checked for invasive mussels when they crossed our borders. If you stopped at an inspection station (there are four, located on major highways entering the province and two roving crews), you likely saw our friendly Government of Alberta watercraft inspectors. These folks thoroughly inspect each and every watercraft that stops – but to do a really complete job, they get a little help from some furry friends.
Boats are full of nooks and crannies that can’t be seen by the naked eye. Invasive mussels can catch a ride in these areas – and remain undetected by human inspectors. But sniffer dogs rely on their noses – not their eyes – to locate mussels. Check out the video to see for yourself. Continue reading
If you’re taking a boat across Alberta’s borders this summer, we’re asking for your help to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
These species – which include rock snot algae, zebra and quagga mussels, and Eurasian watermilfoil – have no natural predators. Once these organisms get into a water body, they are very hard to eradicate, and can cause serious damage to ecosystems and fish species, boats, and infrastructure – including power plants and irrigation canals.
These species have already infested certain water bodies as far west as Lake Winnipeg and the United States – so it’s important that we keep them from crossing our borders. Last year, we set up a voluntary inspection station and a hotline number – 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT) – and asked boaters to report anything suspicious.
Our efforts have paid off: a call to the hotline in May helped us stop a boat infested with quagga mussels before it crossed the border. Although this is good news, it’s also a reminder of our vulnerability.
This summer, we’ll have four inspection stations on major highways coming into Alberta. These stations are set up at commercial vehicle weigh stations outside of Coutts and Crowsnest Pass in the south and Dunmore and Vermilion along in the east. These inspections will help protect boats as well as our native ecosystems.
Here are the steps we need all boaters to take to help us stop aquatic hitchhikers:
- Taking your boat out of the province? Call the hotline number to schedule a free inspection.
- Know how to recognize these species – check out the gallery (above) and read more about them here.
- Clean, Drain, and Dry your boat every time it comes out of the water! Here are the steps you need to follow.
- Report it. If you find anything suspicious while cleaning your boat, call 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT).
If you bring a boat from another province or state into Alberta, make sure to clean it, drain it, and dry it first to help keep aquatic invasive species out of our waterbodies.
Non-native aquatic invasive species, like rock snot algae, zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, have no natural predators – so they can spread very quickly.
Once introduced to a waterbody, these species are virtually impossible to eradicate. They can transform and damage entire ecosystems, impact native species, and threaten Alberta’s biodiversity. They can also damage your boat and equipment, and clog water-operated infrastructure like power plants, water intakes and irrigation canals.
If you own or use a boat, you are on the frontlines of the fight to keep invasive species out of Alberta. Everyone who enjoys our lakes and rivers need to do their part to keep our aquatic ecosystems safe.
Know how to spot aquatic invasive species:
Rock Snot Algae
- gooey algae that attaches itself to rocks, plans and other submerged surfaces
- grows rapidly, covering stream beds and attracting aquatic insects to its sticky surface
- reduces fish habitat quality and food availability
Zebra and quagga mussels
- small clam-like, freshwater species takes over hard and soft surfaces like beaches, boat propellers, docks and irrigation pipes
- reproduces rapidly causing significant ecological damage – one female mussel can produce 1 million eggs every year
- destroys fish and wildlife habitats by removing plankton which increases toxic algal blooms and vegetation growth and affects fish spawning areas
Eurasian water milfoil
- Submerged, rooted plant with long narrow leaves and feathery look
- Spreads quickly forming a large floating mat that prevents light from reaching the water, fish and plants beneath it
- Alters water chemistry, damages habitat, and creates breeding ground for mosquitoes
- Clogs irrigation pipes and gets caught in boat propellers and equipment
Stop the spread:
Aquatic invasive species can live up to 30 days outside of water. Inspect your boat, trailer, and equipment after each use and take these steps to properly clean, drain, and dry your boat.
- Remove all plants, animals and mud at the access area or dock.
- At home, soak your gear in a two per cent bleach solution for one minute (20 ml of bleach per litre of water).
- Rinse, scrub or pressure-wash your boat away from storm drains, ditches or waterways.
- Drain all water from bait buckets, coolers, livewells, bilges, ballasts, transom motors and internal compartments on land before leaving the waterbody.
- Never release live bait into a waterbody or transfer aquatic plants or animals from waterbody to another.
- Drain paddleboats by inverting or tilting the watercraft, opening compartments, and removing seats if necessary.
- Dry all gear completely between trips and allow the wet areas of your boat to air dry.
- Leave compartments open and sponge out standing water.
For more information or to report something suspicious on your boat or equipment, call 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT).