sealPurdue News

August 15, 1997

Videoconference takes aim at zebra mussels

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Zebra mussels are not only tipping the ecological balance away from native species in the Great Lakes, they also are clogging municipal and industrial water lines and agricultural irrigation pipes. An upcoming national videoconference, "Zebra Mussels: Lessons Learned in the Great Lakes Region," will teach how to cope with zebra mussel invasions.

The free videoconference, sponsored by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program in cooperation with the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, will air Sept. 10 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST (2-4 p.m. EDT).

Topics covered include environmental and economic impacts, information on mussel biology, and methods for prevention and control of zebra mussels. Experts will describe and discuss case studies. Participants may join the discussion by phone, fax or e-mail.

The teleconference is aimed at recreational users; waterfront homeowners; freshwater marina owners; bait shop owners; elected officials; journalists; industrial water users; electric utility managers; municipal and private water suppliers; environmental and conservation groups; resource planners; and natural resource and environmental management staff at all levels.

Zebra mussels moved into the Great Lakes in 1986 in the ballast water of ships that had set sail from Europe. Now they're moving into inland lakes and streams. The creatures are tiny, about the size of a thumbnail, but they cause big problems.

"Great Lakes industries and municipal water firms spent an estimated $120 million in cleanup costs in one five-year period following the zebra mussel invasion," noted Pat Charlebois, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant nonindigenous specialist. And they're not done yet.

Researchers initially thought that zebra mussels tended to form clusters on hard surfaces, because that's where most had been found. However, Sea Grant researcher David Garton said recent studies found that the mussels also can form clusters on soft surfaces. It's just a matter of time before they infest lakes bordered primarily by mud and sand, he said.

The videoconference is free. To register, call 1-800-319-2432. A list of downlink sites is available on the World Wide Web at

For more information, contact Pat Charlebois at the Lake Michigan Biological Station in Zion, Ill., (847) 872-0149, or by e-mail at

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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