Tipperary's Lough Derg threatened by invasive mussels from Ukraine
The water quality in Lough Derg is under threat from an invasive species of mussels that are normally found in the Dneiper river drainage of Ukraine and the Caspian Sea.
The quagga mussel was discovered in the Shannon water system over the summer, leading to fears over the impact it could now have on the ecology and nutrient dynamics of the entire River Shannon system. The mussel has already been found in Lough Derg and Lough Ree.
It is unknown how they were introduced into Ireland but it is thought the most likely source was on boats or equipment brought from other areas
Dr Dan Minchin of the Lough Derg science group said that mussel is a filter feeder which is likely to result in further changes to water quality and nutrient dynamics in the Shannon.
He warned the mussel will compete with native mussels and could have an impact on water quality and the ecological status of the Irish aquatic ecosystems.
It can also lead to blocking and fouling of man-made structures and of boat propulsion and water cooling systems.
Some years ago there were concerns over the presence of another invasive species, the zebra mussel, in Lough Derg.
Dr Minchin has been quoted as saying he thinks it is almost certain the quagga mussel was going to spread and it is almost certain it will lead to problems.
Members of the public are being asked to report any sightings of the quagga mussel species to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
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