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Zebra Mussel Concerns

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Zebra Mussel Concerns

Unread postby gear » Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:02 pm

In the past few years, zebra mussels were introduced to Lake Winnipeg, a large body of water near where I live. Very recently, I've tried to better educate myself on invasive species and minimizing or hopefully avoiding the spread of them. There a number of float planes that take off and land on this system and so its worrisome to know that if people don't take the precautions, this could seriously spread.

I watched a video from a link on this website regarding the precautions that could be taken. It talks about wiping down surfaces before you take off. How can you do that if you are at a lake not at your home base where you can't lift your plane out of the water? How are you supposed to get at the underside? It also talked about spraying the inside of the float compartments with a bleach solution. I have Aerocet floats - is it realistic to think that people are going to take all their compartment lids off and do this? I'm not saying that this is not possible, but I'm very worried that something is going to slip through the cracks and this situation may be difficult to contain.

I need to do my part and try. The question I have, is if someone flys to a body of water infected and they land there, even for a short while, can mussels attach to the floats? If water splashed over the top of the floats, and gets in the compartments, how long can e microscopic mussels live there in the compartments before dying? Any feedback would be appreciated.
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Re: Zebra Mussel Concerns

Unread postby jjbaker » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:24 am

With straight floats your best bet is to avoid taxiing through water vegetation which may attach to the water rudder mechanism. Then, cycling the water rudders, or if necessary, removing visible vegetation by hand prior to departure from a quick visit to infested water-body is another. Your next best bet is to avoid flying into waters known to be infested.

IOW's you wish to leave any sort of vegetation behind in the water you picked it up from, rather than introducing it elsewhere. Remember that invasive plant prevention is pretty much as good as its weakest link and often based on guesses and milkmaids theories. For those more concerned, prevention might mean shutting down and visually inspecting the floats and rudders for any sort of algae and plant material, as this is where most larvae is hidden. Rough spots are always a good habitat, whatever surface allows any contamination to stick and change its smoothness is going to be a breeding ground.

Several of the "self certification" programs are simple lip service to a problem that isn't caused by human hands. Until "researchers" acknowledge that birds will pick up larvae and transport it to another body of water (none of them get pressure washed or soaked in soap) and that some invasions are unavoidable, no matter what humans do, we are looking at a very uneven playground. Avoidance procedures consequently lack full validity and effectiveness. The seaplane and boat associations would have benefited from working together ~ 8-10 years ago on this. Invasive species have been an incredible tool for the seaplane industry to demonstrate itself as a proactive environmental steward even though I think most everyone realizes that there is no 100% fail-safe way to solve the problem, short of treating infested lakes chemically.

Considering that only a small percentage of seaplane pilots are "organized" also helps to put reality in perspective with wishful thinking.
I'd do my best to comply with currently preached methods while realizing that the next guy who's never heard of invasive species and doesn't know how to reach out to other seaplane pilots, will rip the exclusive dishware tower we have built with satin gloves down with his ass. My personal guess is that for every single good steward on record we will find 10-20 who do not take the topic serious and will do absolutely nothing.

To specifically answer the question about mussels attaching during short term visits, I'd estimate that a longer period of time is probably required for them to attach fully. I distantly remember someone stating that they do a touch and go before departing a lake to help "flush" anything off the floats that may have stuck to them. The larvae surviving in protected areas is probably more of a concern. I have not yet met anyone I could nail down to answer specific questions on this topic.
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Re: Zebra Mussel Concerns

Unread postby gear » Tue Oct 06, 2015 11:13 pm

jjbaker wrote:
I have not yet met anyone I could nail down to answer specific questions on this topic.

This is my struggle too - tough to nail anyone down on this.
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Re: Zebra Mussel Concerns

Unread postby jjbaker » Wed Oct 07, 2015 2:54 am

Its simple, really. Dealing with invasive species as a seaplane pilot means trying to comply with a set of self-imposed rules and procedures. Many of those are common sense based, as there simply is absolutely no "scientific" way to deal with the problem. I've tried to give you a run-down on those. Invasive species have become a dangerous weapon against seaplanes.

Infestations are tangible, in other words someone from the DNR can pull a bunch of weeds out of a lake and hold them up in such a way that the seaplane parked behind is visible. Fact is, neither DNR nor environmental groups can prove beyond reasonable doubt who is responsible for the initial infestation. Chemical treatments are expensive and take time. The common knee-jerk response is to restrict and regulate, knowing full well that the measures are completely ineffective. The media helps this by feeding guess-work to the public.

The matter of proactive prevention seems to be a crutch used to display a certain group of water users as very "environmentally proactive", digging deeper will raise more questions than answers. We recently had statements that leaded exhaust gas emitted from aircraft is much cleaner than that of boats and we've had countless situations where some have tried to derail seaplane specific advocacy issues into a discussion about boats and boaters.

There was some sort of self certification course which pilots could take and then print a little certificate for.

I know that there are lakes which have flipped and became infested despite the complete absence of boats or seaplanes.
As long as this fact is silently accepted and kept under the carpet as a matter of status quo - we'll deal with invasive species.
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Re: Zebra Mussel Concerns

Unread postby gear » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:20 pm

So i continue to educate my self on this topic - not just the technical side, but trying to understand the way our governing body is approaching this subject and how it relates to seaplane pilots. I've polled a few other seaplane associations in neighbouring areas. What I'm learning is that Jason is correct - there are a lot of "self governing" things that people are doing and some have potentially questionable certifications for training BUT any mitigating efforts by seaplane pilots is well received by the governing authorities. Further to this, its becoming my opinion that cooperating as best we can with the authorities that have jurisdiction over our waterways clearly will extend our access. Fighting the masses on this in my opinion will be a shorter path to closed water ways.

Still feeling my way around this, but this is what i'm learning so far.
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Re: Zebra Mussel Concerns

Unread postby jjbaker » Sun Oct 18, 2015 10:41 am

The unfortunate truth of the matter (universally subjective, but I believe shared sentiment by many) is that every single inch we give is an inch we will not gain back. Ever. See Lows Lake in NY.The second we stop flying into lakes possibly infested, this will be taken as an admission of guilt. The steps are the same in almost every case. (1) Common sense departs (2) Bias takes over (3) Lack of individual involvement; followed by (4) Lack of association involvement; followed by (5) Too little done, too late, leading to (6) Inability to gather enough support to have a voice. Our enemies have figured out that we are unorganized and naive in our defense and slowly beginning to use that against us. Nowadays advocacy related subjects are better guarded than President Obama's email password. By the time things leak out it is literally impossible to mount any sort of meaningful action. Most of those not affected by (location or simple ignorance) advocacy topics will not act, write letters or attend hearings.

A good example of ignorance is the recent case of a pilot in NZ, facing possible jail time and punishment for conducting a rescue flight (takeover in flight) despite having some sort of medical certificate action pending against him. This guy flew and broke the regs to save a life, successfully. When I posted the link to the petition elsewhere, complete paranoia broke out. "There's gotta be more to it!". Whats happening is stunning even to someone who's studied psychology in college and has tried to find out why people are such schmucks, for some 15 years.

People are "withholding" their voice, even though their voice is doing only one thing: "Ask a government entity to use common sense and look into a certain case again." Apparently, the petition is of no direct benefit to any single pilot, it is additionally regarding a pilot in a foreign land. This is all about standing up and sending a clearly audible message to those who are about to punish another one of us. The petition fortunately gains its support by itself, but results could be much better if more people took the time to imagine being in such a position themselves. Here we are preaching "strength in numbers", but some peeps have to have it their way. "My vote matters to someone, so lets see what that someone will give me in return." Empathy is a foreign concept.

The important thing (again) is to realize that the smallest fraction of seaplane pilots is organized in any meaningful way. Having a nice association with a few thousand members and a mediocre revenue sheet looks awesome on paper, and so do the famous people sitting in all kinds of chairs, but there are reasons that so many skip the political clout of the associations. While many of the seaplane fraternity do belong to COPA or AOPA, or maybe EAA, the dock is missed often when trying to gather the attention of such big groups for small-time seaplane ops. Its just not on their radar.

From my last ~ 6 years of running this site, I have learned the following:

  • Advocacy related topics are often skipped and experience less "popularity" than others.
  • Advocacy groups do not communicate, do not reach out and do not collaborate, on any matter, by default.
  • Pilots do not deem it worth their time and effort to send letters, unless the material is prechewed and requires just one mouse-click.
  • Communication of advocacy topics is actively stifled and avoided - so is deeper analysis of invasive species.
  • The aviation media is looking for hammer headlines, it is collectively falling short of its responsibility to inform peeps.
  • The general media is biased, often bases articles on hearsay and guess work and it almost never corrects factual mistakes.
  • The public cannot tell a seaplane from the hole on the rear-end of a pig. Nothing is done to change that.

KlausNW often refers to people sticking their head in the sand in an effort not to see what's really going on.

The issue with invasive species isn't new, it is just one that allows some sort of pro-activity on our side to help or "do our part" as good as we can. A path to demonstrate that seaplane pilots are equally interested in pristine and natural environments, which is something our Canadian friends have figured out a bit better than us. I do still doubt that any of those measures bring resolve to the issue - but I go by what my grandmother said: "If it makes people feel better, why not...".

With all the corruption and minds set in stone within many of the environmentally active groups, all this may not do much, but with those who make decisions under application of some common sense, it may. The way we work our advocacy issues is changing, within a few years many of today's concepts and ideas will no longer work. Industry fragmentation will do damage beyond our imagination. Our industry has been arrogant and ignorant to challenges, deaf to thousands of ideas and stonewalling against anyone and anything that has ever challenged the status quo.

I hope your research and information gathering is successful. I have yet to find a marine biologist with a seaplane rating, willing to take this bull by the horns and to disclose some of the bullshit the media often reports about seaplanes and invasive species, as what it is.
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