The highly invasive aquatic plant, Hydrilla verticillata, known commonly as ‘hydrilla’ or ‘water thyme’ was found in August 2011 in the Cayuga Inlet, the southern major tributary to Cayuga Lake. Hydrilla grows aggressively, up to a foot a day, and creates a thick mat of vegetation when it reaches the water’s surface. It quickly shades out other aquatic plants, eliminating fish and other aquatic species habitat and can make boating access almost impossible. To date, hydrilla appears to be localized to the Cayuga Inlet, with no evidence that it has yet rooted in Cayuga Lake.
This is the first detection of hydrilla in upstate New York’s waters, and the risk of it spreading into Cayuga Lake, the other Finger Lakes and the Great Lakes is substantial. Fragments of the plant, which are easily caught and transported by boats, boat trailers and fishing tackle, can sprout roots and establish new populations. Fragments also float and are capable of dispersing via wind and water currents. Educated anglers realize that hydrilla threatens aquatic ecosystems, the local economy, and recreational boating as well as quality fishing opportunities.
- Stock your boat with plastic trash bags. If you bring ANY vegetation up from the Inlet or Lake on the anchor, lines, fishing gear, prop, paddles etc., DO NOT RETURN it to the water. Place it in a trash bag and dispose of it back on shore at a plant disposal station or trash receptacle. Check for, remove and dispose of ALL vegetation in or on your boat, trailer and all tackle after each use.
- When boating in the Cayuga Inlet please stay in the NAVIGATION CHANNEL and avoid passing through ANY dense patches of vegetation in the inlet or the shallow areas at the south end of Cayuga Lake.
- Always practice clean boating practices: Clean and dry or disinfect your boat and equipment to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species and fish diseases.
For more information about the Hydrilla Task Force or the Cayuga Lake Watershed’s fight against hydrilla, go to: Stophydrilla.org