16 February 2000

Darrin Freshwater Institute in Bolton Landing has recently confirmed the presence of a population of several thousand adult Zebra mussels in Lake George. This is the first confirmed evidence of adult Zebra mussels although velliger (larvae) were previously found.  The mussels are located in a very limited area at the extreme southwestern corner of Lake George.

Zebra mussels (pictured at right) are small, fingernail-sized,freshwater mollusks that have spread rapidly to all of the Great Lakes and an increasing number of inland waterways in the United States and Canada.  Zebra mussels colonize on surfaces, such as docks, boat hulls, commercial fishing nets, water intake pipes and valves, native mollusks, and other Zebra mussels causing enormous economic and ecological impacts.

There is good evidence to suggest that Zebra mussels will not thrive in Lake George because calcium levels in the lake are generally lower than the organism prefers.  However, local conditions vary and it is too early to tell what course the Lake George colonization will take.

Zebra mussel colonies can clog water intakes, cover and sink navigation buoys, litter beaches and attach to docks, boats and boat drive units.  They clog the cooling systems of boat motors, causing them to overheat, clog up exhaust pipes, clog bilges, live wells, and ruin props and entire motors.  The mussels can wreak havoc on recreational and commercial boating everywhere where dense populations are established.

Zebra mussels feed voraciously and hoard the food they cannot immediately consume by binding it with a mucus that makes it unavailable to other animals thereby endangering all the species that feed above them.  Zebra mussels feed so efficiently that they may disrupt the freshwater food chains and cause major decreases in fish populations.

Zebra mussels mainly are transferred when they attach themselves to boats and trailers and can survive several days out of water.  They also live in a free swimming larval stage for one or two weeks and during this time can be easily transferred to other places.

You can help stop the scourge of this predator by following these guidelines:

  • Thoroughly clean boats and equipment before moving them from an infested lake to another water (to or from Lake George).
  • Scrape any mussels off the boat hull and engine.  Zebra mussels can be quite small – so inspect closely.
  • Remove all trapped water (even minute quantities) in livewells, bilges and engines and allow equipment to completely dry.
  • Use hot water (at least 140 degrees F) to flush bilges to remove larvae.
  • Flush engine cooling system with tap water to remove larvae.  If shells are allowed to grow inside, the motor will have to be taken apart to remove them.
  • Do not transport live baitfish that are carried in water taken from infested waters.
  • Please help to inform the public about zebra mussels and help monitor Lake George for further possible infestations.


  Carl R. De Santis, Sr.

Lake George Park Commission P.O. Box 749 Fort George Road Lake George, New York 12845
 Telephone: (518) 668-9347 Fax: (518) 668-5001 E-mail: info@lgpc.state.ny.us  Commission Privacy Policy