Zebra Mussels Found On Boat At Lake Lanier

A boat taken to Lanier after a Tennessee River trip had invasive mussels attached.

DNR Press Release | April 21, 2021

With zebra mussels found on a boat in the Lake Lanier area, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is urging boat owners to CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY their boats, and be aware of the potential for transferring these invasive mussels from waters in other states.

Owners of a boat taken to Lanier after being used on the Tennessee River near Chattanooga, Tenn., recently spotted zebra mussels on the boat and called DNR.

A WRD Fisheries Technician removes dead zebra mussels from a boat at Lake Lanier.

Staff from the agency’s Wildlife Resources Division removed dead mussels from the boat that almost filled a one-gallon bag. Staff then worked with the owners to ensure the vessel was drained, properly cleaned and thoroughly dried. DNR commended the owners for recognizing the issue and taking the necessary steps to report it.

Zebra mussels, a species native to eastern Europe that has spread to many U.S. waters, including the Tennessee River, pose a significant risk to Georgia. If established here they could spur major ecological and economic damage. Zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species can cause millions of dollars in damage to boats and water intake pipes, while undermining native mussels and other aquatic species.

The dead mussels almost filled a one-gallon bag. They were found on a boat that had been taken to Lake Lanier after a trip to the Tennessee River, where invasive zebra mussels have become established.

Distinguished by the striped pattern on its shell, zebra mussels are small in size—less than 2 inches. There is no known established population in Georgia. However, in March zebra mussels were found in Georgia pet stores attached to moss ball plants being sold for aquariums. In addition to its ability to clog water intakes and other issues with significant cost, the species is known to have profound effects on ecosystems. A plankton consumer, zebra mussels can have significant negative impacts on plankton abundance in an area. A study found that zooplankton abundance dropped up to 71% in Lake Erie following a zebra mussel invasion. Such reductions impact a variety of native species that rely on plankton for food.

For more information on these aquatic invaders and how to report them, as well as how to properly CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY vessels, visit

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