Slimed! Invasive algae found in Kayaderosseras Creek
Non-native algae found in Saratoga County threatens base of food web
By LEIGH HORNBECK, staff writer for the Albany Times Union
First published in print: Thursday, May 13, 2010
MILTON -- Rock snot has been found in Saratoga County's legendary trout stream, the Kayaderosseras Creek.
Rock snot -- proper name: Didymosphenia geminate, or didymo for short -- is non-native algae that grows on the rocks at the bottom of a stream. It creates a slick surface for fishermen. Worse, it keeps native algae from growing and threatens the base of the food web. While it will not cause widespread harm to the trout population immediately, it will reduce their numbers over time.
"Rock snot is a pernicious invasive," said Blue Neils, a trout fisherman and vice president of the Friends of the Kayaderosseras. "There is no known control for it."
A Skidmore College professor and her students found rock snot in the creek where it flows through the hamlet of Middle Grove and reported it to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Staff from DEC checked four sites along the stream and found rock snot thriving in two places. The streambed surface at the fishing access point off Creek Road was 80 percent covered with up to a half-inch of the slime.
The streambed near a pull off at the intersection of Creek Road and Middle Grove Road was 90 percent covered up to 2 inches thick on some surfaces.
Neils said he was disappointed to hear the news but also felt it seemed inevitable.
According to David Winchell of DEC, didymo was historically limited to cold, nutrient-poor northern waters but in recent decades has spread to warmer, more productive rivers and creeks. It was discovered for the first time in New York in the Batten Kill (Washington County) in 2007. It has also been found in the east and west branches of the Delaware River and Esopus Creek.
As with other invasive, nuisance species like Zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil, vigilance is the key to containing rock snot.
Microscopic alga cling unseen to waders, boots, boats, paddles, clothing and fishing gear. Even dry rock snot is still dangerous because once wet, it can spread into a new water source. Cleaning rock snot off of equipment is necessary to keep it from invading new territory, but it is no easy task. Winchell recommends soaking and scrubbing everything in hot (140-degree) water, 2 percent bleach solution, 5 percent salt solution, antiseptic hand cleaner or dish soap for at least a minute.
The felt bottoms of wading boots are the trickiest of all to thoroughly clean.
For more information, go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/54244.html.
Leigh Hornbeck can be reached at 454-5352 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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