Quagga muussel survey update

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I made a two day trip to the lake to document the mussel situation, especially what if any effect they were having on rocks containing dinosaur tracks.
The first stop was Lost Eden, where mussels at the present lake level, are attached to the canyon walls from the water line to about 12 to 15 feet above it.
The mussels seem to prefer darker areas as opposed to those areas in full sun most of the time. As a result wall faces that are mostly in the shade are more likely to have mussel coverage and those wall mostly exposed to the sun have much fewer, if any mussels attached.

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Next Stop was uplake to the Cedar Canyon area where the rocks had mussel coverage. One track site in the area had mussels attached to a track.
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Going further uplake to the mouth of Good Hope Bay, more mussel evidence was encountered, but less dense. However, the area explored there was on the side of the Lake getting more sun exposure during the day.

Next day, we ventured south to the lower Escalante. There we encountered a surprising density of mussels attached to the rocks again from the waterline up to 12’-15’ above it.


While there we ventured in the Cathedral of the Desert and observed mussels on the walls, however not nearly the same density as found in Lost Eden.


On the return trip to Bullfrog, some of the area around Mile Marker 80 between Slick Rock and Iceberg Canyons on the main channel, displayed a robust mussel population on many rock surfaces.


It is very surprising that in just one year, we have gone from basically seeing no apparent mussel activity in these areas to that vast numbers that appear now. That’s the bad news.

There is however some good news.

Prior to this trip, it was my understanding that once mussels attached to a surface, they were difficult to remove even using pressure washers. That seems to be the case with live mussels attached to boat hulls and other surfaces. All of the mussels we observed and documented on this trip were dead because the water level had dropped since they first attached and grew on the rock faces. When we tried to remove the dead mussels from the rock surface, surprisingly, they could simply be wiped off with little effort. Additionally, you could take a dead mussel shell, squeeze it between your fingers and it would easily shred into something akin to the texture of a fish scale. This was unlike a situation where one would be walking on something like sharp broken clam shells. I should point out though, that the mussels we observed were probably only one year old. Whether older larger mussels shells disintegrate in the same manner has yet to be seen.

One possible tip for boat owners keeping their boats on the Lake. When you pull your boats to do maintenance or to clean the hull of mussels, let the hull dry for a while till the mussels die, then it is just a matter of wiping them off.

Capt. Tony also shared some optimistic insights; both the ravens and the coots seem to be feasting on the mussels.
Thanks for sharing, Andre. Since our houseboat sleeps in dry storage each winter, we noticed a couple years ago that the dead dried-out mussels come off easily, crumbling away. I wonder if the otters have discovered them yet?

The dust of mussel shells is very evident in the bird poo all over the docks! Whether they are eating live ones found below the surface or waiting til the water has dropped and snagging them once they are above the water line isn't known. Though at least with the ravens it's more than likely they are finding them once the water is dropping. I've seen dozens of Ravens flying back to the marina at night from the Crappie Cove area just North East of the Marina/North Buoy Field.
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