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Aquatic Invasive Species Identification Made Simple

April 23, 2003

Before you make your first cast of the year or launch your boat, grab some of Sea Grant’s newest aquatic invasive species identification cards! Free cards detailing characteristics of nine pests of the Great Lakes and other waters, their wrongdoings, and what people can do to prevent their spread are being distributed through bait shops, marinas, environmental education organizations, and resource management offices throughout the region.

“We’ve created these cards to help people recognize some of the area’s most invasive aquatic organisms and to let them know what they can do to stop them from getting into other waters,” said Doug Jensen, Aquatic Invasive Species Information Center coordinator with the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program. “When these invasive species become established, its virtually impossible to get rid of them so it is important to know how to prevent their spread.”

Precautions everyone can take to prevent the infestation of new lakes include inspecting and removing aquatic plants and animals from watercraft, trailers, and equipment before leaving a water access, disposing of unwanted bait in the trash, and drying boats and gear between use. The unauthorized introduction of fish, crayfish, or plants into public waters is illegal; this includes aquarium creatures and ornamental plants often cultivated in water gardens.

ID cards are available for:

  • Eurasian ruffe
  • Round goby
  • Rusty crayfish
  • Spiny and fishhook waterfleas
  • Purple loosestrife
  • Eurasian watermilfoil
  • European frogbit
  • Zebra mussel (produced for Minnesota by Wisconsin Sea Grant)

The water-resistant ID cards are small enough to fit in a tackle box, wallet, or pocket. They were designed to raise awareness and encourage boaters, anglers, waterfowl hunters, ornamental and water gardeners, as well as commercial fisherman and fishery professionals, to help combat aquatic invasive species. Each card provides information on the simple things that people can do to these species from spreading.

“In a way, we’ve mimicked the characteristics that permit aquatic invasive species to overtake new habitats abundant reproduction and rapid dispersal,” said Jensen, who coordinated the production of over 3.2 million ID cards for distribution throughout the Great Lakes during the year. “The Watch ID cards are excellent examples of collaboration among 31 entities throughout the Great Lakes. They are about leveraging effort and resources, avoiding duplication of effort, and effective public outreach.”

Minnesota Sea Grant produced Watch ID cards in cooperation with the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and state natural resource agencies. Cards were customized for states and provinces bordering the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, Washington, and for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Single cards are free. Individuals or organizations wishing to obtain cards should contact their state Sea Grant office in the Great Lakes, or their state or provincial natural resource management agency. To order Watch ID cards in Minnesota, visit our online order form, or contact Minnesota Sea Grant at (218) 726-6191, or by e-mail.


This page last modified on January 31, 2007     © 1996 – 2017 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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