In a statement issued to the press, the Lake Champlain Basin Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Task Force has said that “eradication of spiny water flea in Lake Champlain is not technically feasible” and urged instead that “spread prevention measures should be implemented as soon as possible” to keep the invasive from spreading to nearby water bodies.
Sampling has confirmed its presence at multiple lake stations in Champlain’s Main Lake region. In 2012, spiny water flea was discovered in both the Champlain Canal and Lake George. Spiny water fleas have been detected in the southern Adirondacks in Great Sacandaga Lake (2008), Peck Lake (2009), and Stewarts Bridge Reservoir and Sacandaga Lake (2010). This summer they were detected in Lakes Piseco and Pleasant (2014).
The Task Force’s Spread Prevention Recommendations were also issued, as follows:
1. Continue to promote the “Clean, Drain, and Dry” message to all users of Lake Champlain to prevent the transport of spiny water flea and other aquatic invasive species to other water bodies. Research indicates drying is the most effective way to kill all life stages of the spiny water flea. In addition to cleaning and draining boats of all water, the Task Force recommends drying boats, fishing line, equipment, and anchor lines, etc. for five days. If users move to another body of water within five days, they should spray/rinse the hull and other external areas or recreational equipment with high pressure (2500 psi) hot water (140°F for 10 seconds).
2. Although Lake Champlain itself has too many access points to have decontamination stations at every launch, all water bodies containing small-bodied organisms in the region should be identified to inform the strategic placement of boat wash and decontamination stations.
3. Continue and increase sampling for spiny water flea through the Lake Champlain Basin Program Long-term Biological Monitoring Program.
4. Post signs alerting Lake Champlain users to the presence of spiny water flea in Lake Champlain and provide spread prevention recommendations to reduce the species spread. Utilize the Cooperative Boat Wash Program to direct lake visitors to the nearest car wash that can accommodate trailered vessels.
5. Explore the use of analytical models to help predict which lakes are most likely to support spiny water flea in the basin to target early detection resources.
6. Conduct early detection sampling in lakes with habitat most suitable for spiny water flea colonization in the Lake Champlain Basin.
The Lake Champlain Basin Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Task Force includes representatives from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Adirondack Park Agency, Québec Ministries of Environment and Wildlife, and the Lake Champlain Basin Program.
Native to Eurasia, the spiny water flea arrived in the Great Lakes in ballast water in the 1980s, and is spreading to other water bodies. They feed 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. Spiny water fleas are small crustaceans, and cause no known risk to people or human health. The tail spines of the spiny water flea hook on fishing lines and foul fishing gear.