Invasive Species Awareness Week is an annual educational campaign to help stop the spread of non-native plants, animals, and other organisms that cause disruption and adverse effects to the environment, economy or human health. Aquatic invasive species live in the water and can destroy habitat for native aquatic organisms, hinder recreation, and even threaten human health. Aquatic invasives include floating plants, emergent plants, submersed plants, algae, mollusks, reptiles, crustaceans, insects, fish, and amphibians.
Invasive species can easily be spread inadvertently by humans. Some examples are dumping an aquarium into a body of water, walking home with seeds stuck to shoes, and transporting fish between ponds or lakes. Be alert to the methods of transport – a seed, tiny plant fragment, even mud or soil can easily introduce a population of species that could have long-term detrimental impacts.
One key action to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species is to CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY your water crafts and equipment. After exiting a body of water, you should inspect your boat, trailer, and equipment for plants and other aquatic hitchhikers. Then you should drain all standing water, which includes live wells, bilge water, and bait buckets. If found, dispose of all species in a disposal station, or someplace they can dry. Before entering a body of water, make sure there are no species on your watercraft, equipment, or trailer. Additionally, make sure there is no water from a previous waterbody on or in your boat. Look for a boat washing station to help clean your watercraft. If proper decontamination wasn’t performed, you should wait 2 weeks between launching your watercrafts.