CALGARY — Wildlife officials are sounding the alarm following the discovery of a tiny invader that hitched a ride into Alberta last week.
Moss balls, also known as marimos, are a popular item among aquarium lovers and are sold in many pet and plant stores throughout the province.
However, when provincial officials discovered a delivery of moss balls to an Alberta distributor had stowaway on board, they became concerned.
“Staff inspected the moss balls and confirmed that invasive mussels were found,” Alberta Environment and Parks wrote on Facebook.
The intercepted shipment originated from the Ukraine, the same place where a number of U.S. businesses also received the contaminated moss balls.
Zebra mussels pose “a significant threat” to Alberta’s waterways, the province says, especially because they are extremely difficult to eradicate.
“Invasive mussels are filter feeders that strain suspended matter and food particles out of the water, disrupting natural food chains and leading to a depleted fishery (fewer and smaller fish) as the fish don’t have enough food,” a government document reads.
All of the moss balls in the shipment were seized under the Fisheries Act, officials say.