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Aquatic Nuisance Species Profiles

Zebra Mussels (invasive mollusk)

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are an invasive mollusk that look like small clams with wavy black or brown and cream-colored stripes. They are native to the Caspian Sea in Eastern Europe and may have come to North America in the mid-1990s as stowaways in the ballast water of ships. They have been problematic in the Great Lakes states and in the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Zebra mussels have not been documented in Georgia waters yet. Learn about this important ANS and learn ways to help prevent its spread and introduction into our state's waters.

Zebra Mussels can:

  • Cluster in large colonies - up to several thousand per square foot.
  • Clog water-intake and outlet pipes, pumps, and motors of municipal, industrial, and power plants.
  • Damage boat engines and foul hulls.
  • Kill native mollusk and shellfish, compete with plankton-eating organisms for food, and eliminate spawning beds for fish.

How they spread:

  • As hitchhikers in and on boats, motors, livewells, trailers and even recreational equipment.
  • Through direct waterway connections throughout infested systems.

How to prevent spread:

  • Inspect boats and equipment after leaving the water (including trailers) and before moving to a new location.
  • Scrape or remove mussels from boats and equipment before leaving infested waters. Dispose of them in the trash. Do not throw on the ground or in the water.
  • Drain all bilge water, livewells, bait buckets and lower units (if possible) before you leave infested areas.
  • Clean boats thoroughly before moving to new waters, especially if you have been in infested areas. Cleaning tips
Links to Zebra Mussel Information

Zebra Mussel Profile (Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers)

100th Meridian Initiative (joint agency project)

    Zebra Mussel Fact Sheet (Ohio SeaGrant)


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