Don’t ferry quagga mussels

Always remember to drain, clean and dry your boat

Memorial Day weekend for many in Arizona means heading to a lake for a day out on the boat. Prep work involved? Snacks, sunscreen and taking along good company.

There’s one more thing you may not be aware of but need to keep in mind. Quagga mussels, a highly invasive species, can spread from one place to another on boats, and thus damage not only watercrafts by ruining motors, but also hurt lake ecosystems and water systems. They are now reported to have spread in Canyon, Apache and Saguaro lakes.

Quagga mussels do this by clinging to hard surfaces such as concrete and pipes, and can affect municipal water treatment plants as well as canals, dams and power plants, which could mean significantly increased maintenance costs.

They also feed on small organisms called plankton, which means less food for native fish, thereby hurting the natural ecosystem.

So, here are some things to always keep in mind:

Before launching into the water:


  • Thoroughly dry the boat, engine, trailer, livewell and bilge spaces


Power-wash the hull of the boat and its trailer


  • Flush bilge spaces with 140-degree water or household vinegar

Quagga Mussel Display

How quagga mussels stick on a pipe

Before leaving the water:

  • Drain the water from the boat, live-bait well and the lower unit
  • Clean and remove all plant and animal material from the hull and trailer
  • Dry the boat and inspect all exposed surfaces

For more information, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s website.





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