August 3, 2012

Spiny water flea found in Lake George


---- — LAKE GEORGE — The spiny water flea has reached Lake George.

That gives the aquatic invasive species a new pathway to enter Lake Champlain, via the LaChute River. 

In recent weeks, attention focused on preventing the flea from reaching the lake through the Champlain Canal, as it had been found there and in the Glens Falls Feeder Canal earlier this summer.

The Lake Champlain Basin Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Task Force released seven recommendations this week, among them redirecting the flow of the canal into the Hudson River and furthering a feasibility study for a hydraulic barrier between the Champlain Canal and Lake Champlain.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation “fully supports the recommendations of the Task Force and will work with the state of Vermont and our other partners to implement the Task Force’s recommendations,” Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release Thursday.  

The water flea’s presence in Lake George, confirmed Tuesday by the Lake George Association, was not good news, he added.

A fisherman trolling along the east shore of the lake had reported a clump of small organisms on his fishing line to an invasive-species steward. After the organisms were identified as spiny water fleas, the Lake George Association sampled the waters off Mallory Island and further confirmed the presence of the species.

Martens said it’s vital that boaters and anglers do their part to help stave off invasion, making sure all boating, fishing and recreation equipment is cleaned and disinfected.

In light of the discovery in Lake George and the Champlain Canal, the Adirondack Council called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature to reverse cuts in environmental spending and establish boat-washing and -inspection stations at all state boat launches in the park.

“The spiny water flea has now moved from Lake Ontario into the Great Sacandaga Lake, Lake George and the Champlain Canal, and we just don’t know how many more places,” Executive Director Brian L. Houseal said in a news release.

“It is only a matter of time before it is discovered in other waters. Because most of our state boat launches are wide open, with no one present to warn recreational boaters about the dangers of transporting invasive plants and animals from one lake to another, every lake and river in the Adirondack Park is vulnerable to invasion.

“The spiny water flea is a particularly troublesome invader, but it is just the latest in a wave of aggressive, exotic species infesting our otherwise pristine environment. We need an aggressive public education campaign aimed at boaters and anglers and we need additional state personnel staffing the launches to inspect boats and trailers and advise boaters.”

Spiny water fleas, with rapid reproduction rates, can impact aquatic life in lakes and ponds, as they can hatch, grow to maturity and lay eggs in as little as two weeks. 

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