Summer student Sierra Collins on deck
The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS) has launched a citizen science initiative to help monitor for invasive mussels in Okanagan Valley lakes including Osoyoos, Skaha and Okanagan,
The society is seeking community members who own private docks on to participate in monitoring for the non-native zebra and quagga mussels. This citizen science project is the first of its kind in the province, and will allow community members to be more actively involved in protecting Okanagan lakes from the invasive mussel threat. Participants in the citizen science project will be provided with a pair of mussel monitors to be attached to their private docks. They will be required to check the monitors every two weeks throughout the summer for the presence of invasive mussels.
“Our Society has been checking for invasive mussels for seven years, however, this initiative will greatly expand our efforts to regions of the lakes that were previously inaccessible,” says Lisa Scott, Executive Director of OASISS. “Not only will we be able to improve the quantity of our data, but we will also be able to involve the community in an environmental cause that many feel passionate about.”
Zebra and quagga mussels are considered to be an environmental disaster, costing millions of dollars to provinces and states each year. In regions where they are already established, invasive mussels damage sensitive ecosystems, clog water intake pipes and water infrastructure, reduce water quality, and impact tourism and the local economy.