Reprinted from the Fall Newsletter of Adirondack Watershed Institute of Paul Smith’s College
Indian Lake, located in Hamilton County, was long considered the largest invasive species-free lake in the Adirondacks – until this summer, when the discovery of an invasive zooplankton was brought to our attention. A concerned angler reported a suspicious finding on his fishing gear in early August, and the species was identified as spiny water flea by AWI Regional Supervisor, Jaime Parslow. The tiny crustacean was later reported to the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) on August 8th.
Once introduced, spiny waterfleas reproduce rapidly, moving throughout the water column to feed each day. Spiny waterfleas are thought to adversely affect growth rates and survival of young fish, due to the competition for food. It is likely that the spiny waterfleas discovered in Indian Lake were introduced from the bilge water or fishing equipment of a watercraft that had previously visited an Adirondack lake already infested with the organism.
While the 2016 discovery of spiny water flea in Indian Lake is unfortunate, it reinforces the importance of invasive species awareness and boat decontamination throughout the Adirondack region. Please be sure that you carefully inspect and drain your watercraft each time you use it!