Water Soldier has been Found in the Bay of Quinte.
Now, we have a big problem
Water Soldier has been marching its way down the Trent River since 2008, when it was found near the hamlet of Trent River. Now, it has been found in the Bay of Quinte. This invasive species could have devastating consequence for the Bay’s ecosystem, fishery, and recreational activities. Potentially, causing hefty financial implications for municipalities and tourism operators.
Water soldier is a cold tolerant invasive perennial aquatic plant that is native to Europe and northwest Asia. Water soldier is a submerged aquatic plant which has 40cm long sword shape leaves with serrated edges that are sharp enough to cut swimmers or anyone handling the plant. It becomes buoyant during the summer months forming dense mats of floating vegetation that choke out native species and are so thick that some boats can’t move through the mats. As the leaves mature, they become waterlogged and the plant sinks below the surface. The mature plants produce offsets, like a household spider plant.
The Bay of Quinte is prime habitat as the plant grows in standing or slow flowing waterbodies up to depths of five metres. This plant will have a major impact on the ecosystem, because of the dense mats of floating vegetation it creates. As well, it has the potential to alter surrounding water chemistry, which may harm phytoplankton (the base of the food chain) and other aquatic organisms.
What has been done to stop the spread of this invader? Since 2008, a number of research, control and management strategies have been undertaken to better understand the biology and management of this invasive plant. In 2014, federal and provincial agencies and other organizations implemented a control program, using a herbicide.
In 2021, the original population found in the Bay was treated with a herbicide in an effort to stop its dispersal throughout the Bay. Unfortunately, during the 2022 summer monitoring season, it was discovered the spread of water Soldier was more extensive than first thought. It was found in several locations along the Bay’s north shore. In 2023, the plant has been found further down the bay near Long Reach. If you are out on the water and think you have seen Water Soldier, Please Report It. The more eyes looking for this plant the better chance of finding populations. This field season several agencies will be out on the water monitoring for Water Soldier populations. However, there is limited manpower and resources available, so public input is vital to identifying additional populations of Water Soldier. A management plan is under development for the Bay of Quinte population.
What can you do to help stop the spread? Boaters can learn to identify the plants and avoid infested areas, reduce boat speeds so the wake doesn’t dislodge plants and offsets, and inspect their boat, trailer, and equipment to ensure they don’t move the plant to another waterbody. Shoreline property owners on the Bay of Quinte are asked to report any sightings of Water Soldier to 1-800-563-7711 or visit EDDMapS Ontario, or search for the ‘Invasive Species in Ontario’ project on iNaturalist.org to report a sighting.
You can find out more about water soldier at this link.