Mussel monitor

Homeowners with docks on six Okanagan lakes are being asked to volunteer for a project that will check for the presence of invasive species.

Can you spare a little space under your dock?

An environmental group focused on blocking invasive species from establishing themselves in the region is launching a citizen science initiative to help monitor Okanagan lakes.

The project, which is being run by the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society, offers two types of volunteer positions during the months of August and September.

The first position seeks homeowners who have private docks on Kalamalka, Wood, Okanagan, Skaha, Vaseux and Osoyoos lakes to monitor for zebra and quagga mussels. Volunteers will receive a pair of mussel monitors to be attached to their docks and will be required to check them every two weeks.

“Our society has been checking for invasive mussels for eight 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.

The citizen science initiative also offers an opportunity for shoreline surveys looking for Asian clams along Osoyoos Lake.

“Asian clams are already established on the Washington side of Osoyoos Lake,” said Scott. “The shoreline surveys will allow us to monitor and protect this high-risk lake from further infestations on the Canadian side.” 

Invasive mussels and Asian clams are not known to occur in the Okanagan Valley. If they were to arrive, they could cause irreversible damage. In regions where they are already established, invasive mussels and Asian clams damage sensitive ecosystems, clog intake pipes and water infrastructure, affect water quality, impact tourism and the local economy.

“We are extremely concerned about the possibility of invasive mussels or Asian clams arriving here,” said Scott. “It’s imperative as a community to do everything in our power to protect our lakes from an invasion.”

The project is being funded in part by the Okanagan Basin Water Board in conjunction with the Don’t Move A Mussel initiative and by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

To register for the project, email oasiss.register@gmail.com or call Sierra at 250-718-7901.