RALEIGH, N.C. (Sept. 22, 2023) – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) announced today that zebra mussels, a harmful invasive aquatic species, have been identified in an Iredell County waterbody. This is the first time this species has been identified in the wild in North Carolina.
On Thursday, September 21, 2023, NCWRC, with assistance from scuba divers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, investigated and confirmed a report of zebra mussels in a quarry on private property. NCWRC believes the mussels are contained to the quarry and is working on options for treatment while continuing its investigation.
Zebra mussels are prolific. Adult mussels can move to other water bodies by attaching themselves to boats, docks lifts and other water-related equipment. Microscopic larvae can be transported in any water that is moved to another location including through diving equipment, live wells, bait buckets, boat bilges, or other gear.
Zebra mussels can quickly take over an environment once they are established and affect the health of other aquatic wildlife by disrupting the food chain and changing the chemistry of the water. They are capable of clogging both public drinking and wastewater systems, as well as damaging recreational equipment.
In March 2021, zebra mussels were found living in moss balls that were being sold in pet stores for aquarium use. Because of their destructive impact, it is unlawful to transport, purchase, possess, sell or stock zebra mussels in public or private North Carolina waters.
To prevent the spread of invasive species NCWRC offers the following guidance:
Clean: Equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud.
Drain: Water from boats, live wells, bait buckets and all equipment.
Dry: All equipment thoroughly
Never Move: Fish, plants or other organisms from one body of water to another.
To report suspected zebra mussels, please contact the NCWRC’s district fisheries biologist offices.
Visit NCWRC’s aquatic nuisance species webpage for guidance on disinfecting snorkel and SCUBA gear and for more information on zebra mussels.
Image 1 & 2: USFWS
Image 3: Jay Ondreicka