LAKE TAHOE — In what officials are calling a fortunate coincidence, regional boat inspectors last week intercepted a vessel with more than 40 adult zebra mussels on it from entering Lake Tahoe.
Inspectors discovered the 2001, 29-foot-long Sea Ray boat at the Meyers roadside station on April 18, said Jonelle Bright of the Tahoe Resource Conservation District. The mussels were primarily found in and around the engines on the back of the boat; inspectors also found some unidentified weeds.
The boat was decontaminated numerous times using the district's standard 140-degree water hot water blasts and other measures, said TRCD spokesman Pete Brumis, and was then quarantined. It has since been returned to the owner and cleared to launch into Lake Tahoe.
The owner, a Tahoe Basin resident, bought the boat from someone in Minnesota and was told it had not been in any water since fall 2011, Brumis said. The owner was cooperative during the inspection, and it's believed he had no knowledge he was transporting invasive stowaways.
It is unlawful to knowingly transport invasive species into Lake Tahoe, Brumis said, and people who do would likely be subject to fines from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
The invasive species were discovered during training last week for the roughly 40 inspectors who begin work Monday for the 2012 boating season on Lake Tahoe, Brumis said. During training, a number of pre-arranged boats come through to be inspected, and the Sea Ray just happened to be infested.
“It was a complete coincidence,” Brumis said.
Last August, inspectors at the Spooner Summit roadside station prevented a vessel with 37 quagga mussels on it from entering Lake Tahoe. Similarly, the boat owner was cooperative, according to previous reports.
Lake Tahoe instituted boat inspections in 2008 to prevent the introduction of invasive species like quagga and zebra mussels into the lake. The locust-like mollusks could wreak havoc on Tahoe's environment and economy, according to previous reports.