To the disappointment of locals, the spiny water flea now infests the gorgeous Lake Vermilion from Minnesota. The small critter will affect the local fishing practices.
Bythotrephes longimanus, known as the spiny water flea is a very small species of plankton crustacean that feeds on smaller crustaceans found in water basins, known as zoo-plankton.The most common species of these smaller crustaceans are included in the genus Daphnia. The issues that the infamous spiny water flea causes in the lakes that is spreads to is that is competes with small fish, since they have the same food source.
The signature move of the spiny water flea occurs when its predators try to eat it. The small critter has a collection of three or four sharp spike like organelles on its back, that cause its predators to essentially choke on it and spit it back out. Naturally, the bigger the predator, the less likely the water fleas are escaping, but due to its high reproduction rate, there always are plenty of them to go around.
This whole scenario eventually leads to a much lower population of fish and a much higher population of water fleas in the lake, which has a devastating effect on the fishing in the area. Since there are less fish to catch, the odds of fishermen actually catching something get lower and lower.
Furthermore, when there are many spiny water fleas in the water they gather on the fishing lines and block them, thus interfering with the fishing process even further. This is extremely important in a touristic lake, because fishing is a large part of the allure of these places.
Unfortunately, the presence of the the small spiny water flea has been confirmed in Lake Vermilion by the Department of Natural Resources.
“DNR staff are coordinating with the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and U.S. Forest Service to alert boaters and other recreationists of the risk of spread,”said Rich Rezanka, an aquatic biologist with the DNR .
The spiny water flea is presumed to have arrived to the Great Lakes through the ballast water from a ship coming from a contaminated area. The small crustacean comes from Europe and Asia, thus being an imported danger.
Lake Vermilion, along with the Vermilion River has been named a contaminated area and will henceforth be included on the official list. All ships will have to be aware of the contamination, so that they may prevent the spread of the small invader.
People are advised to drain the water from their ships upon entering new water basins and also to let them dry out properly, since the dessication will definitely kill off remaining water fleas if there are any.
For the moment there is no effective means of exterminating this minute invasive species, and therefore respecting the preventative measures is key in order to contain the spread of the species to even more lakes.
Image Source: publicradio.org