"Mussel Dog" sniffing out invasive aquatic species
"Mussel Dog" sniffing out invasive aquatic species

Mussel Dogs to Help Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers at Lake Nacimiento

Author: Public Works
Date: 7/14/2021 3:45 PM

During the Mid-State Fair weekends, mussel sniffing canines are helping public officials at Lake Nacimiento inspect vessels for invasive aquatic species – otherwise known as quagga or zebra mussels.

“Mussel dogs,” as they’re called, sniff around boats, alerting handlers to the presence of mussels and dramatically decreasing the time it takes to inspect boats.  See map for location.

To expedite the inspection process, boaters are encouraged to follow these simple guidelines when entering or leaving any water way:

  • Inspect all exposed surfaces; small mussels feel like sandpaper to the touch
  • Wash the hull of each watercraft thoroughly
  • Remove all plant and animal material
  • Drain all water and dry all areas (including the lower outboard unit)
  • Clean and dry all live-wells, and dispose of any unused bait in the trash
  • Empty and dry any buckets and compartments

All vessels entering San Luis Obispo County lakes will be inspected for zebra and quagga mussel. Vessels will not be allowed to launch if they have visited a mussel infested lake within the last 30 days or fail the vessel inspection. Boaters caught without a signed vessel inspection form on board at Lake Nacimiento could be faced with fines up to $2,000.

Zebra and quagga mussels “hitch” rides on boats, and travel to other lakes, causing damage to a lake’s natural environment, boating and water equipment.  Once a lake is infested, it can be expensive to get rid of mussels.  Preventing their spread is the best course of action. 

The County of San Luis Obispo appreciates boaters’ assistance in protecting local water resources.  The public can assist in educating others about the importance of responsible boating by remembering to CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY all boats and equipment before visiting local lakes and being prepared to have boats inspected prior to launching. 

For further information on invasive mussels, the County of San Luis Obispo’s mussel inspection program, and the current listing of infested lakes visit:  https://www.slocounty.ca.gov/departments/public-works/services/programs-outreach/invasive-mussels and www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Quagga-Mussels