Invasive ‘zebra mussels' found in Lake Travis

Zebra mussels have made their way to the Austin area.

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials detected them in Lake Travis. Before they hit the Austin area, they were found in five other river basins in Texas, meaning they are traveling and multiplying.

“They've just been steadily marching down through the state and following that I-35 corridor which isn't a coincidence,” said Monica McGarrity, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

McGarrity said they are hitching rides on boats.

“It's really discouraging because it doesn't take boaters long to clean, drain and dry their boats,” she said.

Zebra mussels can contaminate water, and clog public water intakes. It is possible the mussels can spread to other bodies of water such as Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake.

“You don't want your kid’s feet to be cut up on sharp shells on the shoreline. If you have no interest in the water, don't want to go near it, don’t want to fish or anything, there's still potential for that to affect your water utilities,” said McGarrity.

These organisms originated in Eurasia. By the 1980's they made their way to Great Lakes, and then on down. Levels are not out of control yet, but that could change. It's important for owners to be more aware of what's on their boat. The department says they can perform inspections for boaters if need be.

“Dry up any standing water and when you get home let the boat dry completely before you go to another lake,” said McGarrity.

Texas Parks and Wildlife said there really is nothing much they can do but slow the spread of these creatures, that's why it is important for boat owners to get inspected.

It is illegal to transport zebra mussels knowingly or unknowingly. The fine is up to $500.