Keeping the Quagga Mussel away from Big Bear Lake

Not too many people are familiar with the Quagga Mussel, but it’s threatening our water ways and is becoming a major problem throughout the United States.  I first heard about this invasive species in our local newspaper, but had no idea how important it was to keep out of Big Bear Lake.  With the discovery of the Quagga Mussel in Lake Mead, the Great Lakes, and Lake Pleasant, the MWD (Municipal Water District) has gone to great lengths to make sure they keep this species away from Big Bear Lake. 

How To Identify

Closely related to another invader, the zebra mussel, they both have black stripes on tan bodies. Unlike the zebra mussel, the quagga mussel shell has a rounded angle. The quagga is no bigger than an adult’s thumbnail but it is slightly larger than the zebra mussel.  It is light tan to almost white, with narrow stripes or blotchy lines. The shell is fan-shaped, with pointed edges at either side.

The Impact

Because they are extreme water/food filters, they eat up the food source of fish and can change the food chain of any lake or small body of water quickly.  They take in lots of pollutants (at levels higher than the surrounding area), which can harm wildlife that eat them.  These tiny mussels multiply by the millions and adhere to and clog motors, water intakes, valves and pumping equipment in boats. 

This is an excellent video from YouTube explaining the effects of the Quagga Mussel on our waterways. 


Boats are the primary transporters of Zebra and Quagga Mussels.  Any vessel traveling from another lake or the Colorado River should remain dry and out of the water for at least seven days prior to entering Big Bear Lake.  All boaters should take the following steps to inhibit the spread of the Zebra and Quagga Mussel:

  • Thoroughly wash the hull of each watercraft once it is out of the water, removing all plants and animal  material.

  • Drain any water through the vessel’s hull plug, and ensure the area is dry.

  • Ensure the vessel’s lower outboard unit is drained and dry.

  • Clean and dry any live-well aboard the vessel.

  • Empty and dry any buckets.

  • Dispose of all bait in the trash.                                

  • The plan for Big Bear Lake and the Municipal Water District

    Boaters applying for permits will be required to complete a survey.  If the boats have been in infested waters then an inspection of the watercraft will be required before it is allowed into Big Bear Lake.  Two mussel inspectors have been hired by the MWD to inspect each boat before launching into the lake at both public launch areas.  Whether you are enjoying the lake for the day, or you’re a lakefront property owner who utilizes the lake multiple times each year, this is a serious issue that everyone must comply with in order to keep our lake safe.




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