Unique water creature wreaks havoc on Oklahoma golf course's lake

Nothing like an aquatic creature to completely ruin your golf game.


That's the problem right now at Claremore's Heritage Hills Golf Course. Officials say an invasive species, the zebra mussel, muscled its way into the golf course sprinkler system via Lake Oologah, clogging it up, according to stories in The Claremore Daily Progress.


Originally believed to be a native of Russia, the species has become a real problem throughout the United States after the creatures hitched a ride on freighter ships plying routes from the sea into the Great Lakes, and thus, into the U.S. freshwater system.


Now the suckers are in Oklahoma lakes, and clogging the sprinkler system in the dang golf course, said course manager Dave Wilber, according to the story.


"We have miles and miles of water line," Wilber said. "I think the bits of shell are just now getting all of the way down the line and into the system."


Oklahoma's warm water is especially conducive to prolonged zebra spawn seasons, the story reported.


According to Everett Laney of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Oklahoma Zebra Mussel Task Force (yes, there is one), zebra mussel females produce up to 1 million eggs each per spawn. Those in the Arkansas River have sometimes spawned three to four times per summer.


Laney said the zebras are good at filter feeding and will clear water up (CFN speculates presumably even removing the burgeoning amounts of chicken crap runoff). However, while removing the crap, the zebras also remove the nutrients that crappie (and other fish) depend on, as well.


"They can totally disrupt the fisheries and food chain," Laney said.


Spawning season for zebras in Oklahoma often runs from May through October, according to Laney. When the water reaches 54 degrees, it's warm enough for the mussels to spawn.


"Once they get into an open water body, there's no way to eradicate them without killing everything else," Laney said.


Meanwhile, the golf course will pay upwards of $5,000 for a Y strainer with automatic back flush on the discharge side of pumps to eliminate the mussels in the sprinkler system.