Spiny water fleas, an aquatic invasive species, have been found in Sacandaga Lake in the southern region of the Adirondack Park near Speculator, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. It was previously confirmed in the Great Sacandaga in 2008, Peck Lake in 2009 and Stewarts Bridge Reservoir earlier this year.
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 direct competition for this important food source. The tail spines of the spiny water flea hook on fishing lines and foul fishing gear.
“Unfortunately, another invasive species has spread in the waters of New York State,” said Steve Sanford, Director of DEC’s Office of Invasive Species Coordination. “DEC and its many partners are doing our best to alert water-based recreationists to the presence of non-native invasive species in our waters and will continue to promote practices that minimize the spread of these non-natives.”
Spiny water fleas can have a huge impact on aquatic life in lakes and ponds due to their rapid reproduction rates. In warmer water temperatures, these water fleas 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 prior to hatching.
“Each new invasion reinforces the urgency to fund and institute more comprehensive prevention programs statewide,” said Hilary Smith, Director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program. “This includes transport laws, water stewards, wash stations and educating outdoor enthusiasts about cleaning gear before moving between waterways. Invasive species are spread by people — we have the power and the responsibility to stop their spread.”
It is not clear when the spiny water flea was introduced into each of the lakes. What is clear is that the initial introduction, and very likely the others as well, were through adult, larvae, or eggs being transported to the water bodies by bait bucket, bilge water, live well, boat, canoe, kayak, trailer or fishing equipment.
Currently, there are no successful means to control or eradicate this and many other aquatic invasive species, so preventing their spread is the only means for reducing their impacts on native aquatic communities. Boaters, anglers and other recreational enthusiasts need to take precautions to avoid transporting this and other invasive species, particularly after leaving a water body known to harbor an aquatic invasive species.
To help prevent the spread of invasive species, DEC recommends:
INSPECT & CLEAN your fishing and boating equipment and remove all mud, plants and other organisms that might be clinging to them.
DRY your fishing and boating equipment before using it on another body of water. Drying is the most effective “disinfection” mechanism and is least likely to damage sensitive equipment and clothing. All fishing and boating 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% or less.
DISINFECT your fishing and boating equipment if it cannot be dried before its use in another body of water. Disinfection recommendations vary depending on the type of equipment and disease or of concern. Some disinfection techniques can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/50267.html . Be particularly aware of bilge areas, live wells and bait wells in boats as they are areas that are difficult to dry and can harbor invasive species.
See the DEC website for more information on invasive species and how you can stop their spread.
USGS Spiny Water Flea Fact Sheet.
Illustration: Current extent of Spiny Water Flea infestation.