YRITWC Spring 2017

Notice of an Invasive Species in Alaska

by Kari Eschenbacher

 

Notice any new plants living in a river or lake near you?

 

This could be the highly invasive plant called Elodea that is not a native to Alaska. Elodea have been confirmed to be living in various lakes, rivers, and streams throughout Alaska but where did it come from? Elodea is actually a plant commonly found in aquariums and fish tanks. It is a common thought that aquarium plants and animals cannot survive the cold Alaska winters therefore aquariums are getting dumped into Alaska waters. The truth is that some aquarium plants and animals can survive the cold temperatures and Elodea now living in Alaska waters is proof of that.  Here are a few of the reasons that Elodea is so bad for our waters:

 

  1. It takes over the natural habitat of that body of water which negatively affects native plants and animals such as salmon.

  2.  It is very easy to spread to other bodies of water especially if equipment such as boats, floatplanes, fishing gear, etc. has not been cleaned and was recently in a body of water that was infested with Elodea.

  3.  It can make it difficult for boats and floatplanes to travel through water due to thick vegetation.

  4.  It is extremely difficult and costly to remove.
     

What can you do? If you have an aquarium, please do not dump it in the water! Alaska Department of Fish and Game recommends that people dispose of aquarium plants in the trash after sealing them in a plastic bag or returning them back to a pet store. You can also educate others about the negative effects of dumping aquariums into Alaska waters. Lastly, you can report any sightings of Elodea to Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s invasive species hotline: 1-877-INVASIV (468-2748). If you report any sightings be sure note the location and the type of water that you found Elodea in. Take action and help protect Alaska’s natural resources today!

 

Additional Resources:

Flyer created by Kari Eschenbacher (2017)

Credit: Alaska Department of Natural Resources (2013)