Mussels join gobies in L. Kagawong invasion

by Robin Burridge

KAGAWONG—There has now been two reported incidences of suspected invasive species found in Lake Kagawong by area residents.

Last week, Tom Imrie of Kagawong discovered what he believed to be a round goby in his minnow trap at the north end of the lake. “I caught the round goby in Lake Kagawong in a minnow trap I set,” he said. “I recognized it by its shape and confirmed it using the Ministry of Natural Recourse’s (MNR) Fishery Regulation Summary.”

Mr. Imrie told The Expositor that he had heard from other Lake Kagawong residents that they too had spotted round gobies.

As an avid fisherman for the last 55 years, Mr. Imrie said that he is certain that the specimen is a round goby and not a sculpin, which is commonly confused with the invasive fish.

“I was very disappointed to discover the goby,” said Mr. Imrie. “It means that people have not been following MNR and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) protocol—washing their boats and draining their live wells and bilge before transferring their boats from one body of water to another.”

The suspected goby is between one and a half inches in length, leading Mr. Imrie to believe it is a young specimen, which means that round gobies may be spawning.

The round goby is identified by the MNR as “a bottom-dwelling fish that has rapidly spread to many areas of the Great Lakes and inland waters. The round goby can displace native fish from optimal habitat, eat their eggs and young and spawn multiple times a season.”

Mr. Imrie said that once the invasive species is introduced, not much can be done, but he is hopeful that the small mouth bass of the lake might adapt and begin to feed on the species.

The Expositor contacted the MNR, but the spokesperson was unable to confirm or deny the presence of round gobies in Lake Kagawong at this point in time.

Mr. Imrie also revealed that he had found a zebra mussel while scuba diving in Lake Kagawong. He took both invasive specifies samples to the MNR office in Espanola this past Monday and is waiting to hear back about their findings.

Barbara Dagg also contacted The Expositor on Monday, reporting the finding of zebra mussels in Lake Kagawong. “We have been finding clams with these mussels attached this summer,” said Ms. Dagg. “We heard other people in our area saying they had seen suspected zebra mussels as well and recently we have been finding more and more in our area on clams and submerged pieces of wood. My husband checked our intake valve for our water system and there were zebra mussels on it a well.”

Ms. Dagg said that she looked at photos of zebra mussels on the Internet to compare to her specimens and that they look very similar.

She told The Expositor that she too contacted the MNR and sent photos of the suspected zebra mussels.

“It’s very distressing to think that we may have zebra mussels now in our lake,” added Mr. Dagg. “We will have to begin wearing water shoes or risk cutting our feet like we have heard happens in other lakes.”

According to the OFAH invasive species website, round gobies eat zebra mussels, “but do not significantly reduce their population levels.”

The MNR urges individuals who find suspected invasive species to call the invading species hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or visit www.invadingspecies.com.