Freshwater aquatic nuisance species, such as zebra mussels, spiny water flea, fish hook water flea and Eurasian watermilfoil, can unintentionally be transported from one body of water to another on scuba diving gear. Precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of spreading these unwanted species,especially when diving consecutive dives on different bodies of water on the same, or consecutive days.
Many divers believe that zebra mussels have benefitted the sport by improving visibility in the waters they inhabit. However, the negative impacts to the environment, the fishery, and industrial, municipal, and private water intake, far outweigh any positive benefit. Also, the rate of deterioration of wrecks is greatly increased when they become encrusted with mussels.
By following these simple guidelines, you can prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species and protect the environment from their harmful impacts.
Inspect your equipment and remove any plants, mud, or animals that are visible before leaving any water body.
Drain water from buoyancy compensator (bc), regulator, tank boot and any other equipment that may hold water before leaving any water body.
Aquatic nuisance species can survive for a period of time on wet scuba gear or in water trapped in buoyancy compensators. Therefore it is important to:
Dry your suit and all equipment completely before diving in a different water body, and rinse the inside of your bc with hot or salted water as described below; or
Submerge/wash suit and equipment, and rinse the inside of your bc with hot water (at least 40° C or 104° F); or
Submerge/wash suit and equipment in a tub or tote containing salted water(1/2 a cup of salt dissolved in one gallon of water), and rinse the inside of your bc with the salted solution too; then rinse equipment with clearwater.
Any objects removed from the water have the potential to introduce aquatic nuisance species to new waters. It is illegal to remove artifacts while diving.
Learn what these organisms look like (at least the ones you can see). If you suspect a new infestation of an exotic plant or animal, report it to the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or make a report online.