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Experts concerned with invasive clams, Zebra Mussels

LAKE GEORGE - Environmental advocates are ramping up efforts to draw attention to aquatic invasive species after a water steward found zebra mussels on a boat visiting Lake Placid - and the recent discovery of Asian Clams in Lake George.

An extensive search was recently launched on Lake George following the August discovery of the tiny clam on a sandy beach near the village. While divers' surveys last week indicated the clams appeared not to be spreading past where they were first found, environmentalists said people must be vigilant to stem the incursion.

Scientists say the invasive species, also known as the "golden clam," can cause extensive ecological and economic damage.

Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program coordinator Tyler Smith said researchers from the Darrin Fresh Water Institute of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found the clams on the Lake Avenue Beach during a recent research project.

"They just happened across an expanse of about 2.5 acres in total of dense beds of Asian clams," Smith said, noting the invasive species has invaded Lake Tahoe and has sparked substantial concern there among environmental experts.

Scientists note the Asian clam can self-fertilize and release up to 2,000 juvenile mollusks per day.

Smith explained the phosphorous waste excreted by the invasive species triggers large bright-green algae blooms.

"There is also the issue with the bio-fouling," he said. "They like sandy bottoms and they grow very densely. In Lake Tahoe they've seen 600 Asian clams per square meter - that's a huge number."

Experts also worry the Asian clam - like its cousin the zebra mussel - could clog up water intake pipes and other structures. Their sharp shells can also befoul swimming beaches.

It took $1.4 million to undertake clam eradication measures in Lake Tahoe. Smith noted the early discovery of clams in Lake George may be the blessing for the Lake George community, which is dependent on tourism. The lake is renowned for its clear water and ideal conditions for swimming and boating.

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