No zebra or Quagga mussels were found this year during boat inspections at Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish, according to the city of Bellingham.
In 2014, one boat was found carrying Quagga mussels, one of the invasive species the city and Whatcom County governments, and Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District, want to keep out of the lakes. The mussels were dead, but the discovery reinforced the idea that invasive species could reach local lakes.
More than 8,900 boat inspections were done at the two lakes in 2015, up more than 1,000 from last year and more than double the number when mandatory inspections began in 2013.
Of the 8,900, inspectors intercepted 187 boats transporting vegetation and 218 boats that were wet or were found to have standing water. Those boats were of particular concern because standing water can host and spread the microscopic larvae of damaging aquatic invasive species.
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360 Number of lakes, rivers or other water bodies where boats last visited before inspection
Zebra and Quagga mussels, first documented in the U.S. in 1988, can damage water intakes, docks and boats. Infestations can close recreation areas, and affect the taste and odor of drinking water. Lake Whatcom is the source of drinking water for the Bellingham area.
Inspections began over concern the mussels could be transported into local lakes from elsewhere. The 2014 boat with Quagga mussels had previously been at mussel-infested Lake Havasu in Arizona.
One boat inspected in 2015 last came from that lake but didn’t contain mussels. Other boats last were on water as far away as the Atlantic Ocean, Lake Minneola in Florida, the Concord River in Massachusetts and Spectacle Lake in Alaska, according to a map on the inspection website. In total, the boats had last been at 360 different lakes, rivers or other water bodies in 19 states or Canadian provinces.
The 2015 inspection data, online at whatcomboatinspections.com/2015-story-map, also maps out where the boat owners live and other places the boats have been.
An annual permit for a motorized boat, with unlimited inspections, is $50, while one for a canoe, kayak or other unregistered watercraft is $10. People can get a $10 discount per boat by taking a 30-minute online course to learn about inspections and ways to prevent the transportation of invasive species. Details: whatcomboatinspections.com.