Over the past few years, Lake George has been at the forefront of the fight against aquatic invasive species in New York State. However, the weather can make controlling the spread of certain invasive species very difficult. According to the Lake George Association, warm weather this past winter and summer resulted in less Asian clams dying off, and now, the species has spread from 16 known sites in the lake to 19.
Photo Credit: Lake George Association
The Asian clam is an aquatic invasive species that is commonly less than 1.5 inches in size. Despite its small size, under the right conditions, the Asian clam can reproduce alone and spread throughout waterways rapidly.
In Lake George and other infested bodies of water, the Asian clam is a major issue because it releases a large amount of inorganic nutrients. These nutrients foul the water and can cause algae to develop and possibly become a widespread algal bloom, which can harm aquatic ecosystems.
Asian clams were first discovered in Lake George in 2010 near the beach off Lake Avenue by the Darrin Fresh Water Institute. This site matched the Asian clam’s typical habitat – an area with a sandy or gravelly bottom in warm, shallow water.
Since this initial discovery, the Lake George Park Commission, the Lake George Association, and other groups have worked to survey, research, and attempt to eradicate Asian clams from Lake George. Unfortunately, since Asian clams prefer warm weather, not many died off this past warm winter and recent summer in Lake George.
According to Lake George Association Communications Director Patrick Dowd, the Lake George Park Commission recently coordinated a survey of 176 miles of shoreline along Lake George, which revealed three new Asian clam sites:
- Sand Pebble Cove on the east side of the Town of Lake George
- The south side of the Edmunds Brook delta in Diamond Point
- The north side of Cape Cod Village in Hague on the west side
After this discovery, the total number of Asian clam sites in Lake George is 19, covering roughly 100 acres. Although the most effective approach to eradicating Asian clams is to use a benthic mat treatment, which involves covering the clams in an air-tight seal and suffocating them, there are a few problems this time.
First, the three new Asian clam sites are located in areas with rocky bottoms and docks, making it too difficult to create an air-tight seal with the benthic mat treatment. Second, Asian clam control efforts have already cost $2 million since 2010, and now, there is only about $80,000 left in funding. $80,000 is roughly the cost to eradicate Asian clams from 1 acre.
Despite these obstacles, the Lake George Association and other groups will continue to monitor the Asian clam population in Lake George. The Asian clam task force for Lake George meets regularly to review data and discuss potential strategies.
Additionally, a cold winter this year could help the situation, and if any new sites are discovered in flat and isolated areas, then funds could be spent on treatment efforts.
Until then, the public is asked to continue following boating decontamination regulations, and if you spot a clam that looks like an Asian clam, then you should get a sample or take a photograph and call the Lake George Association at 518-668-3558 or the Lake George Park Commission at 518-669-9347.