Brochure/Rack Card: Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! / Clean Boats, Clean Waters
New York Coastlines, Summer 2013
This rack card and brochure series provide boaters with how-to tips for slowing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) - including the importance of practicing watercraft inspection and proper disposal of AIS to learning more about invasives from local educators.

Also featured in both the "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!" brochure (pdf) and the "Clean Boats, Clean Waters" rack card (pdf) are profiles for some AIS of concern: Hydrilla, water chestnut, zebra and quagga mussels, round goby, didymo [rock snot] and Eurasian watermilfoil.

Hydrilla, for example, is a Asian submerged aquatic plant that exhibits aggressive growth and is known for choking out native wildlife. Discovered in New York State in August 2011 in Ithaca's Cayuga Lake Inlet, Hydrilla is believed to have been introduced to North America as an aquarium plant. Cayuga Lake is the longest (40 miles) of central New York's glacial Finger Lakes, and second largest in surface area and second largest in volume.

Invasive Species Specialist Chuck O’Neill with Cornell Cooperative Extension says, “Hydrilla threatens native plants by blocking the sunlight they need to thrive. Decreased oxygen levels in Hydrilla infestations can lead to fish kills and reduce the size and survival of sport fish. Thick mats of Hydrilla can obstruct boating, swimming, and near shore fishing, leading to reduced shoreline property values. Hydrilla is not used by fish or waterfowl and therefore can eliminate or reduce the area of bird feeding and fish spawning habitat.”

Water chestnuts, also included in the rack card, is a native to Europe, Asia and Africa that was unintentionally released into the Charles River in the late 1800s. It was known to exist in the Great Lakes Basin by the late 1950s.

“The establishment of water chestnut can result in large floating mats of vegetation that 'clog' aquatic habitats and limit the penetration of sunlight into the water column, impeding the growth of native plants and ultimately disrupting the food web,” says NYSG's Coastal Community Development Specialist Mary Penney, who again oversees the public outreach efforts of NYSG's Launch Stewards Program this summer.

In an effort to help keep recreational vehicles and gear clean of invasives like Hydrilla, water chestnut, didymo and Eurasian watermilfoil, NYSG's"Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!" brochure not only include a series of inspection and disposal tips, but also a convenient checklist and schematic that can be used to guide boaters through watercraft inspection for AIS. Round goby, which is also featured in this brochure, is also featured in NYSG's recently-released "Lake Erie" fact sheet.

"Aquatic invasive species can damage boat engines and steering equipment, reduce native game fish populations, degrade ecosystems, make lakes and rivers unusable by boaters and swimmers, and impact the economies of waterfront communities," says NYSG Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist Dave White, who is again running a Clean and Safe Boating campaign for Sea Grant this year.

One way that boaters can help is through how they prepare and clean their recreational vehicles between uses. “People generally rinse off boats and trailers, but we need to be cleaning off everything that comes in contact with the water, from anchors and bait nets to fishing poles, fins and beach booties," says White. "Look closely at gear with nooks and crannies such as the lip of a kayak that can catch species such as zebra mussels and weeds.”

Some recent news related to the aquatic invasive species mentioned in these two publications above include:
— Compiled by Paul C. Focazio

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