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Aquatic invasive species | quick facts for paddlers

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If you paddle, don't pick up hitchhikers!

The guys we worry about in Saskatchewan are quagga and zebra mussels.  These little critters can attach anywhere on your boat.  Young mussels are so small they may not be visible but will feel like sandpaper on the hull, and they can survive up to 30 days out of water in cool wet weather.

zebra mussels

If you transport your canoe, kayak, sit-on-top or SUP between waterways you are required to stop at any inspection stations along the way.  These are set up as part of the prevention program to keep invasive mussels out of our water systems.  

Why the concern?

So far our province does not have mussels in our waterways but if it happens it could cost millions in management.  Mussels attach to hard and soft surfaces in water up to 100 metres deep or more.  Aside from cutting up your feet while you're at your favourite swimming hole, they clog boat parts and municipal water intakes, damaging pipes and water transport infrastructure.  They also upset the food chain and change the water conditions, resulting in loss of species and algal blooms.

What do they look like?

Both mussel species are anywhere up to 3 cm in length and have dark and light striping.  They cluster in large colonies.

quagga and zebra mussels

How do I clean my boat?

You need to clean not only your boat but your PFD's, paddles, anchors - anything that's been used in water.  The Clean + Drain + Dry program gives some guidelines:

  • Clean: Remove muck and plants from your gear, inspect it, and rinse it all off.  Scrub or pressure wash your boat away from drains or ditches where runoff enters a waterway.  It's best if you can use hot water (max 60°C). Don't use commercial car washes as they drain into our water systems.
  • Drain: Get all the water out of your scupper holes, kayak hatches, and anywhere else it can sit.  Use a sponge where necessary.
  • Dry: Let your boat and gear dry completely before you use it in another waterway.  5 days is usually enough if the conditions are hot and dry, but if it is damp you may need much longer.

Clean Drain Dry program

What do I do if I find something on my boat?

If you find any evidence of mussels, call the 24-hour TIP line at 1-800-667-7561.

canoeing kayaking paddling SUP

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