By Geri Williams with information from Sara Grady, PhD
Great Herring Pond is probably free of aquatic invasive species, according to recent monitoring surveys. Fortunately, this means we have a pond that is not overgrown with “weeds”. However, any time a boat enters our pond it could be carrying invasive weeds with it. Small fragments of these weeds can quickly take root and colonize our ponds. An overgrown pond can make boating and swimming difficult and unpleasant.
So, what can we do, and more importantly, what should responsible boaters be doing? We/they should keep their boat clean by checking it before and after boating and not transporting organisms from one pond to another. The basic guidelines are CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY. Please note that these guidelines apply not only to motorboats but also to jet skis, non-motorized craft like kayaks and canoes, and trailers for transporting them.
Remove any plants or animals from all parts of your boat, paying special attention to places where plant fragments might get tangled (like your propeller). Dispose of anything you find in the trash. Do not transport bait from one pond to the next. Dispose of unused bait in the trash.
If you’ve been fishing, dispose of live well water away from any water body. Even if you can’t see anything in the water, there could still be fragments of plant or planktonic larvae of animals like mussels present.
Wash your boat, preferably with hot water. Allow it to completely dry before bringing it to another pond.
Preventing the spread of invasive species into our ponds is going to be increasingly important as invasion pressure from other water bodies grows. Some additional effort by users of the pond will help us maintain an invasive weed free status. (Information from Massachusetts DCR Lakes and Ponds Program)
Although the pond has been monitored for invasive pond weeds every year 2016-2020, these happen once a year, while the residents and users of the pond are on the water far more often and can act as spotters for potential invaders before they spread. Here are descriptions of three invaders of greatest concern/likelihood – there are more.
- Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata): 6-petaled small white flowers, leaves have serrated edges and a distinctive midrib, leaves are arranged in 4-8 (can be confused with native Elodea that is present in the ponds and has 3 leaves per whorl).
- Variable milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum): Feathery leaves with rounded tips in dense whorls of 4-6. Has a “raccoon tail” appearance, and is often confused with Coontail, which has divided leaves instead.
- Water chestnut (Trapa natans): Triangular floating leaves arranged in rosettes. Leaves are shiny and waxy above and slightly hairy below, with an air bladder at the base and wavy edges. Distinctive nuts are dark brown with four sharp barbs.
Please keep your eye out for anything that seems like it doesn’t belong! If you find something that concerns you, take a good photo of it (2 photos at least – close up of leaves and growth pattern) and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep a sample in your freezer in case it needs to be examined.