Thursday, July 7, 2016

Invasive Algae Found in Western New York Waterway

The invasive algae didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) was recently confirmed in Clear Creek, a popular trout fishing stream in Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reported today.
"This is the first documented finding of this aquatic nuisance species west of the Catskills in New York State," said DEC Region 9 Director Abby Snyder. "Clear Creek is one of our region's most popular wild brown and rainbow trout streams. Given its connectivity to Cattaraugus Creek and proximity to other nearby trout streams, we ask anglers to be especially vigilant in helping to prevent this species from spreading."
Samples taken and examined by DEC recently confirmed the algae's presence in Clear Creek at Jones Road in the Cattaraugus County portion of the steam. The finding was confirmed after a concerned angler contacted DEC with a potential sighting.
Didymo, also known as "rock snot," can produce large amounts of stalk material that form thick mats on stream bottoms. During blooms, these mats may completely cover long stretches of stream beds. Its growth can alter stream conditions, choking out many of the organisms that live on the stream bottom. The resulting disturbance to the stream's food chain can negatively impact trout and other fish populations.
Once introduced to an area, didymo can rapidly spread to nearby streams. Wading anglers and other water recreationalists such as kayakers, canoeists, boaters and jet skiers can easily and unknowingly spread didymo by transporting the cells on boats and other gear, especially if moving from one waterway to another in a single day.
DEC strongly encourages all anglers and boaters in the region to play a role in preventing the spread of didymo by following the precautions below:
  • 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 - Treatment varies depending on what needs to be cleaned. Be sure that the solution completely penetrates thick absorbent items such as felt-soled waders and wading boots. Felt-soles, due to their ability to absorb didymo cells and to stay damp for prolonged periods of time, are a major vector in spreading didymo and require special treatment (prolonged soaking in disinfectant).
  • Dry - If cleaning is not practical, after the item is completely dry to the 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.
DEC Fisheries staff will monitor Clear Creek and nearby waterways throughout the summer to check for the spread of this algae, and encourages anglers to report any potential didymo sightings and locations. For more information on didymo, visit DEC's website.