Getting tourists to brave the scorching heat and temptations of sin and hang out in Las Vegas is a challenging enough proposition in our economy. But don’t tell that to the millions of party going mussels that somehow got landlocked in Lake Mead in Las Vegas.
The first quagga mussels turned up at the lake from their secretive Great Lakes sojourn in August 2005. Since then their numbers have mushroomed to an estimated three trillion, according to University of Las Vegas professor David Wong, who says they’re “arguably the largest invasive species of freshwater systems in North America.”
With female mussels capable of reproducing one million offspring in one reproductive season, it’s no surprise the numbers have grown geometrically.
Apparently, the little buggers don’t pose any inordinate danger to the Las Vegas water supply. J.C. Davis of the Southern Nevada Water Authority simply says they’re “an operational headache that has to be managed,” adding that screens on the intake pipe at Lake Mead have to be cleaned three times a year.
But stepping on them is like walking on broken glass, Davis says.
Will they leave the lake when their Vegas winnings dwindle? Nobody knows. Some experts say the pests will grow, and then suddenly collapse because they have no food to sustain them. Others theorize that at some point they’ll sustain the population. And others yet say the quagga population will cyclically rise and fall- the latter is the scenario most supported by authorities.
So, don’t expect the critters to really go away. And, besides, they filter the small particles from the water, increasing the lake’s clarity. Think of the water as natural sake?