Zebra mussels originated in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. It is thought that in 1988, a European ship probably picked them up in ballast water upon leaving port, and when the ship arrived in America, it released the ballast, freeing the mussels. Because young zebra mussels are free swimming, they spread extremely fast. Females begin reproducing at 2 years, and can lay between 30,000 and 1 million eggs at a time. However, only about 2% reach maturity. this means that 600-20,000 new zebra mussels will be produced by each female. Because they have no natural predators, they thrive in the wild.
it probably took 2-4 years before they started reproducing en masse, so they probably became apparent as a problem in American waterways in about 1994-1995
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