Rock-snot also called “didymo” (Didymosphenia geminata), is a species of diatom (single-celled algae) that grows in shallow waters. It is native to the Northern Hemisphere in areas including Europe and Asia. More recently, rock snot has been found in North America and in New Zealand. A single drop of water can transport this fast-growing microscopic alga.
Didymo forms large mats on bottoms of rivers, streams, and lakes. These mats can grow so large and dense that they destroy critical habitat for fish and prey species and disturb spawning areas. Didymo is transported by fishing waders and equipment as well as flowing water.
A new research project at the University of Colorado at Boulder has discovered that high water flows greatly decrease the amount of Didymo in the system. This control method is still being researched and is not yet proven.
Fishermen should take the following precautions after fishing in Didymo – infested waters. These methods will help reduce the spread of Didymo.
Check: Before leaving the river, remove all clumps of algae from gear and clothing. Leave them at the site, preferably in the sun to dry. If you find clumps later, don’t wash them down the drain or sewer, treat them with the approved methods below, dry them and put them in a rubbish bin.
Clean: Soak and scrub all items for at least one minute in either hot (60°C) water, a 2% solution of household bleach or a 5% solution of salt, antiseptic hand cleaner, or dishwashing detergent.
Dry: If cleaning is not practical (e.g. livestock, pets), after the item is completely dry wait an additional 48 hours before contact or use in any other waterway.
For more information:
Photo Credits: Title photo: University of California Center for Invasive Species Research, http://cisr.ucr.edu/didymo_rock_snot.html.Identification photo: Minnesota Sea Grant, www.seagrant.umn.edu/ais/didymo
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