The presence of the spiny water flea, an aquatic invasive species, has been confirmed in Lake George, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced.
“DEC has worked with its partners on the Lake Champlain Basin Task Force to stop and slow the spread of the spiny water flea,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “The discovery of spiny water flea in Lake George is not welcome news and DEC’s efforts to slow the spread of this and other invasive species will continue.”
Earlier the Lake Champlain Basin Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Task Force released seven recommendations to slow the spread of spiny water flea into Lake Champlain, which includes redirecting the flow of the Champlain Canal into the Hudson River and furthering a feasibility study for a hydraulic barrier between the Champlain Canal and Lake Champlain.
“DEC fully supports the recommendations of the Task Force and will work with the state of Vermont and our other partners to implement the Task Force's recommendations,” Martens said. “Boaters and anglers also have a major role in slowing the spread of invasive species. All boating, fishing and recreation equipment must be cleaned and disinfected, to prevent spreading invasive species to other water bodies.”
The Task Force is made up of representatives from New York state, Vermont and Canada. The Task Force’s report recognizes that the closure of the Champlain Canal and the Glens Falls Feeder Canal is not technically, legally or economically feasible.
The discovery of spiny water flea in Lake George provides another pathway for the invasive species to enter Lake Champlain via the LaChute River. Lake George is not connected to the State Canal System.
The presence of spiny water flea was confirmed through sampling efforts by the Lake George Association July 31. The samples were taken to the Darrin Fresh Water Institute where four spiny water fleas were identified.
“Right now the commission’s top priority is invasive species control and management, and we will work with our many partners on determining the extent of this population,” Dave Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, said. “The commission is currently developing a comprehensive invasive species prevention plan for Lake George, with the goal of preventing any new invasive occurrences from entering the lake.”
The possible presence of the spiny water flea was first reported on July 27 by an invasive species steward at DEC’s Mossy Point boat launch in Ticonderoga. A fisherman had reported having a clump of small organisms on his fishing line after spending time trolling the waters off Mallory Island along the east shore of the lake.
The steward took a sample and provided it to the Lake George Association, which passed it on to the Darrin Fresh Water Institute. After the organisms were identified as spiny water fleas the Lake George Association sampled the waters off Mallory Island and further confirmed its presence.
The invasive pest was previously confirmed in the Great Sacandaga Lake in 2008, Peck Lake in 2009, Stewarts Bridge Reservoir 2010, Sacandaga Lake in 2010 and most recently this summer in the Champlain Canal and Glens Falls Feeder Canal.