Spiny Water Flea Threatens Lake Champlain

The invasive species has been detected in connecting waters and will soon enter the big lake.

The Lake Champlain Research Institute (LCRI) has confirmed massive numbers of spiny water fleas in the Glens Dalls Champlain Canal Feeder, the junction basin where the feeder canal branches off the Hudson River at Glens Falls.

Dr. Tim Mihuc, Director of the LCRI, reports that recent sampling indicates that numbers this year have increased dramatically, and that the invasive species can be expected to arrive in Lake Champlain via the Glens Falls Champlain Canal Feeder and Champlain Canal at any time.

"They are on their way into the lake, if not already there," he says.

Brought to the Great Lakes region from Europe and Asia in the bilge water of ocean-going vessels, spiny water fleas cause problems for sportfishermen, and when their numbers grow large enough, they can damage local fisheries.

The planktonic crustacean becomes a nuisance to anglers when it attaches to fishing lines and leaders, fouling the line guides and reels. More devastating, however, is when a population explodes and begins consuming large amounts of native plankton on which young walleyes, perch and other desirable species feed.

Spiny water fleas offer no nutritional value themselves as they are protected by a long, spiny tail that keeps them from being eaten by fish less than 2 inches long.

Once the invasive crustaceans become established in a body of water, they cannot be eradicated. The best defense it to halt their spread. For information on battling species that threaten our waters, visit Wildlife Forever's Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers web page.

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