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Scientists trying to suffocate Asian clams

Matthew Renda
Nevada Appeal News Service

STATELINE – Lake Tahoe scientists unveiled the first stage of an experiment designed to curtail the spread of non-native freshwater mollusks.

A team of scientists, led by Tahoe Environmental Research Center Director Geoffrey Schladow, rolled out 100-by-10-foot barriers across a half-acre of the bottom of Lake Tahoe near Round Hill Pines Beach and Marina, designed to deprive oxygen to the Asian clams that have become increasingly prevalent there.

The experiment is estimated to cost $648,000. In total, $1.4 million has been allocated for studies and scientific projects relating to the control of Asian clams, most from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act.

Schladow said elimination of the species from Lake Tahoe is not likely and the experiment focuses more on the possibility of population control. Asian clam population has reached thousands per square yard in some portions of Lake Tahoe, particularly in the southeastern corner of the lake.

The barriers are scheduled to be removed in September.

A barge was equipped with a portable crane operated by Bill Sluis, research engineer at UC Davis, and his team. Sluis began the mission by using the crane to pick up large rolls of black rubber and drop them into the water.

The rolls were then suspended underwater by flotation devices, while three divers unrolled the tarpaulin material. The divers then secured the barriers at the bottom before surfacing with examples of Asian clams.

Scientists will duplicate the experiment off the shore at Lakeside. A full acre of the bottom of Lake Tahoe will be covered until September.