Tom Writes . . .
During our last trip on the river (Monday September 11 – we already wrote about it), I forgot to write about the mussel shells. When we portaged around Moore’s Dam, and put back in, we saw many hundreds of thousands of mussel shells. The whole area on the right bank, call it a beach, maybe, was entirely covered in dead empty mussel shells.
All the area under our feet, under the canoe as we dragged it back to the water was mussel shells. Not just a coating, but a deep layer, probably at least a foot deep. These mussels are an invasive species, originally brought here in the ballast water of ships from Europe, not too terribly long ago.
We have seen other types of shells on our river cruise, including native clam shells, including clam shells as big as a human hand. But, these maybe millions of mussel shells really made an impression on us.
We have read about these invasive mussels, but we never saw them before in real life. They are a big deal. Imagine, maybe, that all the sidewalks in your American neighborhood got covered in some sort of European worms. That is what the invasive mussels have done in this stretch of the Grand River.
Editor’s Note: To learn about the devastation mussels and other invasive species have visited upon the Great Lakes, pick up a copy of The Death And Life Of The Great Lakes by Dan Egan (W. W. Norton & Co., 2017). The following excerpt from page 123 refers particularly to the invasion of quagga mussels: “The chaos this has brought is like nothing – not even the sea lamprey – the lakes have suffered in their 10,000-year history.”
And now come the Asian Carp . . . what hath we wrought?