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How did zebra mussels get into the Great Lakes, and why is that a problem?

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Welcome to CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm

How did zebra mussels get into the Great Lakes, and why is that a problem?

It is generally agreed upon by scientists that zebra mussels entered the Great Lakes from ballast water dumping by large ocean-going vessels from Europe. Ballast water is used to keep ships stable in the water. A ship will carry large amounts of ballast water when there is no cargo and will dump it in port as cargo is loaded.

The zebra mussel has the potential to inhabit most of the fresh waters of the U.S. and may impact a variety of native aquatic species and eventually entire ecosystems. They also have had a large economic impact already. Many power plants and water users have had to spend millions of dollars cleaning out zebra mussels from their facilities. In addition, more money has been spent on retrofitting facilities with devices to keep zebra mussels out and to monitor for them. These costs, unfortunately, get passed along to the consumers.

And now you know. Join us again every weekday for a new CoreFact. For other CoreFacts, or for CoreCast, our in-depth science podcast, go to usgs.gov/podcasts. If you'd like to have a question featured on our show, give us an email at corefacts@usgs.gov or a phone call at 703-648-5600. Remember, long distance fees do apply.

CoreFacts is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.

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Title: How did zebra mussels get into the Great Lakes, and why is that a problem?

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Date Recorded: 6/26/2008


Usage: This audio file is public domain/of free use unless otherwise stated. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this audio.

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Tags: 2008 GreatLakes InvasiveSpecies June ZebraMussels biology water

 

 

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