Zebra Mussels: A Great Lakes Pest This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


      The Great Lakes regionhas been plagued by an environmental problem since the mid-1980s when a tinystriped shell mollusk known as the zebra mussel was accidentally introduced intoNorth American waters. When foreign ships released their ballast water, the zebramussels, native to salt water, came with it. They quickly adapted to fresh waterand multiplied rapidly (a female zebra mussel is capable of releasing one millioneggs per year).

The zebra mussels cause a number of environmentalproblems. They encrust boat bottoms, piers, fish traps, nets, markers andnavigation buoys. They cover native freshwater mussels, smothering them. Theyalso threaten the food supply of many species of fish and shellfish native to theGreat Lakes. Finally, they clog intake pipes for community water supplies. Myschool actually had to close once because the zebra mussels clogged the waterintake pipes that extend out into Lake Erie and shut down our community's watersupply.

I urge all citizens to write their representatives in Congress andencourage them to use the mechanical device invented at Ohio University. Thisdevice controls the pesky mollusks by lowering the oxygen level in the water inthe pipes. Field tests showed that zebra mussels are unable to attach to thepipes in the oxygen-controlled environment.

According to the inventor ofthe device, Professor of Civil Engineering Tiao Chang, it could "controlzebra mussels in an environmentally safe way with savings to industry as well asconsumers."

Another use for the device would be to help theshipping industry eliminate zebra mussels from the ballast tanks of their ships."Our device is portable, so it could be installed on large ships to controlzebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species in the ballast tanks, preventingthe further infestation of the waterways," Chang said.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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