Aquatic invasive plants and animals are a threat to our local waterways. They can grow rapidly and form monocultures, which out-compete native species and disrupt the natural processes of our ecosystems. Invasive species can also be toxic to humans and animals, and have significant economic impacts.
Learn how you can help protect BC’s beautiful waterways from invasive species.
- CLEAN off all plant parts, animals, and mud from boat and equipment (e.g. boots, waders, fishing gear). Use a power wash station if available.
- DRAIN onto land all items that can hold water (e.g. buckets, wells, bilge, and ballast).
- DRY all items completely before launching into another body of water.
Clean Drain Dry encourages recreationists to clean, drain, and dry all boats and equipment to help reduce the spread of invasive plants and organisms into and between BC’s lakes and rivers. Invasive plants and animals can be moved between water bodies by “hitchhiking” on boats, trailers, SUP’s, kayaks, fishing gear, and bait buckets. Using proper technique to remove aquatic animal and plant material from your gear before moving your it to a new water body helps to prevent the spread of invasives. Learn more here.
If you spend lots of time around lakes, rivers, or the ocean, consider taking our free Aquatic Invasives 101 course.
Do you know what common aquatic invasive plants and animals look like? Have you paddled or swam by one before, unbeknownst to you?
Take our free 30 minute certification, Aquatic Invasives 101. You’ll learn about 9 different invasive species that are current threats in Sea to Sky waterways: how to identify them, their impacts, and what you can do to prevent their spread. You’ll leave feeling empowered to make a difference in your environment by identifying and reporting aquatic invasive species. Plus, the course is fun!
Sign up today!
Don’t Move a Mussel
Zebra and Quagga Mussels are tiny fresh-water mussels that are not native to BC. They are currently not found in BC, and we wish to keep it that way. When they invade a water body, Zebra and Quagga Mussels filter out nutrients and micro-organisms such as plankton which are the base of the food chain for BC’s native aquatic species. They also overgrow and clog water intake pipes of power stations, municipal water supplies, and agricultural water intakes; what’s more, they coat beaches, docks, and the propeller and hulls of boats to the point that they become unusable.
Prevention is our best defence. In addition to following the Clean Drain Dry steps, preventing further spread of the invasive Zebra and Quagga Mussels requires extra attention. These mussels are very small (about the size of your fingernail when fully grown and microscopic as larvae), meaning they are very hard to spot.
To prevent the introduction and spread of these aquatic hitchhikers into the province, the Government of BC has initiated extra preventative measures.
When transporting a watercraft in BC, it’s mandatory to stop and report to all watercraft inspection stations along your route.
Watercrafts include sailboats, motorboats, car toppers, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. More information, including a map of inspection stations, can be found here.
Whirling Disease is caused by a microscopic parasite that infects both fish and freshwater worms. It leads to skeletal deformities in the spine or skull, and often ends up killing the fish.
Thankfully there are no health concerns for humans swimming in or drinking water infected with these parasites. However, our native fish (such as salmon and trout) are at risk, as there is currently no treatment option available. Learn more about Whirling Disease here.
Close to home
Prevention is key!
The disease can be spread by moving fish (alive or dead), mud, water, and improperly cleaned equipment between water bodies. Following the Clean Drain Dry procedure also helps protect our waterways from Whirling Disease.
Crab Team, Unite!
Since 2021, SSISC has been recruiting and training volunteers to monitor sites in Howe Sound for signs of early European Green Crab infestation.
We call them the Crab Team, and you can learn more about their work and how you can join them on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are invasive species?
Invasive species are species that are not native to our region, This means they were not in the Sea to Sky region pre-European contact. They typically arrived here through human activities from other areas of North America or from other continents.
However, not all non-native species are invasive. A non-native species is considered invasive only if it negatively impacts the environment, society or economy. Invasives tend to grow rapidly and spread quickly. Because these species did not evolve here, natural controls that kept them in check in their native habitat (such as insects, viruses, fungi, predators, etc) do not exist here, so the invasives are able to grow and spread rapidly.
How do I learn about what aquatic invasive species in BC look like?
Our species profile pages is a great place to get started if you want to learn about invasive species found in the Sea to Sky.
We also have a free, 30 minute course called Aquatic Invasives 101 that you can complete any time to learn more about aquatic invasive species species. It is free, online, and family-friendly. Have a look!
I found an aquatic invasive species, what do I do?
Take a picture and report it! You can submit your report at ssisc.ca/report (all submissions are confidential).
Please don’t try to remove it yourself, as many invasive species will actually spread even more when treated incorrectly. Our professionally trained team will assess the best control method.
Do you want to volunteer with SSISC? Awesome! Right this way.
Oh and by the way…
- Invasive plant profiles
- Invasive animal profiles
- Invasive fungus, disease and pathogen profiles
- Clean Drain Dry
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Invasive Species Management
- Zebra and Quagga Mussels Early Detection Lake Monitoring
- Don’t Love It to Death
- Invasive Mussel Collaborative: Monitoring & prevention for recreational users