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Boaters in Manitoba have an ongoing responsibility to protect our water bodies from aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels.

Zebra mussels have infested Lake Winnipeg; large amounts were found on the shores of Victoria Beach when the snow melted this year.

Manitoba Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist Candace Parks says this is the new normal.

"The south basin of Lake Winnipeg is becoming invaded with zebra mussels, so whenever there's a wind or wave event zebra mussels will be dislodged and then placed on the beach, so this is something that Manitobans using the south basin of Lake Winnipeg need to get used to. You will be seeing zebra mussels on the beaches."

Zebra mussels can damage infrastructure, compete with other species for food, and can hurt to step on.

If the beach you're at has zebra mussels, Parks recommends wearing water shoes.

"What people see on the beach is essentially what's underwater, right? So zebra mussels physically attach to surfaces: they attach to themselves, attach to rocks, attach to docks, stuff like that... They are quite sharp," she says.

Since zebra mussels became an issue here, Manitoba has ramped up efforts to keep them from spreading. It is illegal under the federal Fisheries to possess or transport mussels. Mussels can cling to watercraft and equipment, so it's important to clean equipment that's been in the water thoroughly.

Parks says everybody who uses Manitoba water bodies need to be part of the solution, and if people don't take the proper measures of cleaning their watercraft and equipment zebra mussels will spread.

"We just need people to realize what's at stake here... this is a long-lasting impact for all Manitobans."

Parks says if everyone does the right steps -- clean, drain, dry, and dispose -- we can protect our water bodies.

Cedar Lake was found to have a zebra mussel veliger in 2015. The province at the time said that suggested overland movement of uncleaned watercraft because Cedar Lake has no direct connections to anywhere zebra mussels had previously been found. A veliger is also suspected to have been found in Whirlpool Lake in Riding Mountain National Park, prompting Parks Canada to step up its management efforts. Parks says Singush Lake in Duck Mountain has also had a suspect mussel sighting from samples taken in 2016; the province has declared a quarantine of sorts at Singush.