A new species of invasive snails has been discovered by a team of researchers, which is supposedly invading the Great Lakes and killing birds and spreading rapidly in the region. Also known as Bithynia tentaculata, this faucet snail was detected by a team of researchers from 10 different universities and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The researchers from Grand Valley State University have discovered 11 European natives in the Great Lakes in July 2013. What’s more, according to Alan Steinman, the director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University, these species are spreading rapidly in the area. Though it is not yet clear as to how this snail is spreading around the lakes, but it is expected that it may be happening due to ballast water.
This snail basically consists of a parasite that tends to kill waterfowl and ducks and coots too. It is just around half an inch tall and has a blackish-brown color with some concentric circles on the shell opening that resemble tree rings.
Since these snails are quite small, they can move around easily and spread, and are hard to kill too. “Our finding highlights the importance of ecological monitoring, especially at a large spatial scale, and making those results publicly available so that decision makers have good information when implementing management strategies”, said Carl Ruetz, a professor at the Annis Water Resources Institute and collaborator on the Great Lakes coastal wetlands monitoring project.
While the snail is not currently observed, its effect on the waterfowl is clearly visible. Birds in the region are getting sick due to these snails, which stresses on the need of some action to be taken by the wildlife officials. The officials believe that the sick animals are not able to dive and fly properly, which is why they die.