Adirondack Base Camp header image

How to stop Vermont Rock Snot

July 24th, 2007 · 1 Comment · News

Rock Snot. An invasive species of which I have not heard about. Normally I’d be on-board with this sort of thing, but check the suggested methods of preventing the spread. My comments and emphasis in red.

New York DEC Warns of an Aquatic Nuisance Algae in Vermont

Anglers Can Take Steps to Prevent its Spread in New York Waters

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis is asking anglers to take steps to prevent the spread of an aquatic nuisance algae, known as “didymo” or “rock snot”, that was recently found in Vermont waters.

“While didymo has not been found in New York, we are asking anglers to take precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of this algae,” said Commissioner Grannis. “Due to its potentially devastating impacts on aquatic plants and fish habitat, DEC hopes through the cooperation of anglers and others to stop this at our doors.”

Unlike many other aquatic nuisance plants, didymo grows on the bottom of flowing and still waters. It can develop thick mats even in fast flowing trout streams. Fishing becomes difficult; the abundance of bottom dwelling organisms declines; and trout and other fish that feed on those organisms also decline. There are currently no known methods for controlling or eradicating didymo once it infests a water body.

The microscopic algae cling unseen to waders, boots, boats, lures, hooks, sinkers, fishing line and other fishing gear, and remain viable for several weeks under even slightly moist conditions. (sounds like a STD) Absorbent items, such as the felt-soled waders and wading boots commonly used by stream anglers, require thorough attention as discussed below. Anglers, kayakers and canoeists, boaters and jet skiers can all unknowingly spread didymo.

DEC is urging anglers and other water recreationists to Check, Clean and Dry to prevent the introduction and spread of didymo.

  • Check – Before leaving a river or stream, remove all obvious clumps of algae and look for hidden clumps. Leave them at the affected site. If you find any later, do not wash them down drains; dispose all material in the trash.
  • Clean – Soak and scrub all items for at least one minute in either hot (140 degrees F) water, a two percent solution of household bleach or a five percent solution of salt, antiseptic hand cleaner or dishwashing detergent. Be sure that the solution completely penetrates thick absorbent items such as felt soled waders and wading boots. (Insane – check this regimen)
  • Dry – If cleaning is not practical, after the item is completely dry to touch, wait an additional 48 hours before contact or use in any other waterway. Check thick absorbent items closely to assure that they are dry throughout. Equipment and gear can also be placed in a freezer until all moisture is frozen solid.

NOTE: If cleaning, drying or freezing is not practical, restrict equipment to a single water body. (not practical…Ha!)

While DEC recommends that anglers always take these precautions, it is especially important that any gear used out of state be treated before using in New York waters.

Believed to be native to far northern regions of Europe and Asia, didymo has been expanding its range and tolerance for warmer, more nutrient-rich water conditions during recent years in Europe and North America.

Accompanying this expansion have been increasing reports of massive blooms that reach nuisance levels, forming thick mats of cottony material on the bottoms of rivers and streams that can potentially smother aquatic plants and destroy fish habitat.

Didymo was discovered in New Zealand, in 2004, and within 18 months it had spread to 12 rivers on the South Island, forming nuisance blooms at several locations. New Zealand Biosecurity has instituted severe penalties for intentional spread of the algae.

It’s really hard to believe these are real suggestions. Can a New York State Biosecurity Agency become a reality?

Update: Rocksnot impact ‘less severe than first thought’ – huh, seems that earlier fears about impact on fish are reversed. Didymo “infested” areas actually have more fish food. Or, is this just a way to cover up an intractable problem?

Tags: ···

One Comment so far ↓

Leave a Comment