Zebra Mussel Pictures

 
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Zebra Mussel Photos Showing This Small Freshwater Mollusk

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The Zebra Mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, is a freshwater bivalve mollusk that was originally native to southeast Russia, but which has been introduced into many parts of Europe and the US. A highly prolific invasive species, it has caused widespread property damage, has displaced endemic bivalve species, and is generally considered a pest. On the other hand, because its filter feeding efficiently cleans water, populations of smallmouth bass and yellow perch have increased in some places inhabited by zebra mussels due to improved water quality.

Zebra mussels have alternating light and dark brown stripes, but are sometimes all light or dark brown. They survive best in water that is 6-28 degrees C (43-82 degrees F). They start out tiny and grow to just under two inches. They attach to any hard surfaces in freshwater, including rocks, concrete, pipes, screens, logs and boats. Once established, their colonies grow and they cover the entire surface of the object they're attached to, and pile on top of each other. Spawning zebra mussels can produce from 30,000 to a million eggs a year, making them extremely efficient breeders. While some organisms prey on them, such as crayfish, ducks, some species of fish, and muskrats, the mussels breed faster than predators can consume them.

The zebra mussel is considered native to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, but it has been transported to other parts of the world in the ballast of ships and attached to anchors, chains, and the bottoms of boats. It is now found in Hungary, Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Spain and many other countries of Europe. It was found in the Great Lakes in 1988 and has since spread to connecting waterways in the U.S. Its presence has killed off native mussels and damaged docks and boats. Water treatment plants and power plants sometimes become so overrun with mussels that they can't operate, adding billions of dollars to the cost of producing clean drinking water and electricity.

One positive effect of the zebra mussels has been an increase in smallmouth bass in Lake Erie and of yellow perch in Lake St. Claire. The improved water quality allows sunlight to penetrate to greater depths, resulting in more plant growth, which provides shelter for certain species of fish. However, the negative effects generally outweigh the positive: the food chain gets disrupted when algae and plankton get filtered out of the water, leading to crashes in small fish populations, which lead to a decrease in populations of the large fish and birds that prey on them. To be fair, though, the zebra mussel is not the only culprit, as the invasive quagga mussel, Dreissena rostriformis bugensis, is now out-competing the zebra mussel and taking its place in many waterways.

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picture of zebra mussels picture of zebra mussels on old piling picture of zebra mussels picture of zebra mussels attached to a rock

Picture of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, that invade and starve local populations, Lake St. Clair, Michigan, USA

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Stock photo of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, attached to old piling in Lake Michigan, Great Lakes

Picture #: 099981

Picture of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, that invade and starve local populations, Lake St. Clair, Michigan, USA

Picture #: 011274

Picture of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, attached to a rock in Lake Metonga in Wisconsin

Picture #: 088107

picture of zebra mussels on a beer bottle picture of zebra mussels on lake bottom picture of zebra mussels picture of zebra mussels on old piling

Picture of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, around beer bottle at the bottom of Lake Metonga in Wisconsin

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Stock photo of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, that cover the rocky bottom of Lake Metonga in Wisconsin

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Picture of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, Lake St. Claire, Michigan. Freshwater mussels are serious problem in the Great Lakes and other areas, they invade and starve local and native populations

Picture #: 070997

Picture of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, attached to old piling in Lake Michigan, Great Lakes

Picture #: 099968

 

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