DALLAS, June 21 (UPI) -- An invasive Russian mussel has rattled Texas wildlife officials who say it's been discovered in a lake connected to a crucial water source for the Dallas area.
A single specimen of the so-called zebra mussel, an invasive species that can wreak havoc on aquatic ecosystems, has been found in Lewisville Lake outside Dallas, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
It is the third Texas lake in which the zebra mussel has been discovered, two of them in the basin of the Trinity River, the water source for 2.4 million customers serviced by Dallas Water Utilities.
"They can clog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors left in infested waters by covering boat hulls and clogging water-cooling systems, annoy boat-dock owners by completely covering anything left under water and can make water recreation hazardous because of their razor-sharp edges," the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said in a statement.
The zebra mussel was first described in 1769 based on specimens discovered in a tributary of the Ural River in the Caspian Sea.
With no natural predators, the mollusks spread to most of Europe during the 19th century, and were first documented in North America in 1988 when they were discovered in the Great Lakes region.
Scientists at the time said they suspected they had come into North America on ocean-going vessels from Europe that dumped their ballast water in the Great Lakes.
Texas officials said they were worried the mussels could spread to other bodies of water in the state.
"Once they are established there is no known way to get rid of them," Carter Smith, the state's top wildlife official, said in a statement.