Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Invasive Quagga mussels 'could be devastating to British wetlands'

Quagga mussels can produce a million eggs in one season Credit: Wildfowl and Wetland Trust

A species of mussels native to Ukraine has been found for the first time in the UK and experts are warning it could devastate British wetlands.

The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) says it found Quagga mussels in the Wraysbury Reservoir near London Heathrow Airport last week.

The molluscs are less than 5cm long but breed so prolifically that their vast colonies can smother boat hulls, block pipes and potentially cause flooding.

They also have the ability to poison drinking water because they eat pollutants and then turn them into concentrated toxic faeces. This poses a risk to animals that use waterways as well as to humans.

Quagga mussels have been found in Wraysbury Reservoir in Surrey Credit: Google Maps

The WWT also warned that the invasive mussels could "cost millions of pounds in tax and water bills to protect drinking water supplies".

The mussels are often spread by human activity, since they can attach themselves to the hulls of boats, fishing equipment and other hard surfaces.

The WWT's head of conservation policy, Jeff Knott, warns that all water users should take steps to avoid their spread:

These tiny mussels can be devastating but look so innocuous, which is why it's so difficult for boaters, anglers and other water users to avoid accidentally transferring them between water bodies when they latch on to their equipment. That's why it's so important for all water users to remember the motto 'clean, check, dry' when they pack up their equipment to help slow the spread.

– Jeff Knott, wwt