The invasive algae known as Didymo has been found in Seneca Creek near its confluence with Whites Run, according to Mike Shingleton, Assistant Chief, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Section. An angler fishing in Seneca Creek had earlier sent DNR a picture of what he believed was Didymo. DNR personnel investigated the Didymo report and collected samples from Seneca Creek. Whites Run was also inspected in its lower reaches, but nothing resembling Didymo was observed. The Seneca Creek samples were sent to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for confirmation. All samples contained Didymo.
In 2008, Didymo's presence was confirmed from Elk River, Gandy Creek, and Glady Fork.
Didymo is a common name for Didymosphenia geminata, a freshwater diatom species that can form extensive mats on stream beds. The thick mats can cover native algae and aquatic insects, making fishing very difficult. These thick mats appear slimy, but feel more like cotton or wool fabric. The algal mats are also called "rock snot" and can be white, yellow or brown in color - but not green, as is most algae. The algae form stalks that attach to rocks. While the algae eventually die and break off, the stalks persist and may impact stream habitats and aquatic organisms for weeks or months.
Didymo can be attached to waders, paddles and boats. Felt-soled boots and waders are likely the worst culprit in the spread of these algae. The porous material stays damp and the algae cells can remain alive in the damp felt bottoms. DNR encourages anglers and all others to take precautions against moving Didymo and other potential invasive species from one water body to another. While anglers and boaters may be responsible for the introduction of some unwanted species, they also are the most important line of defense in minimizing the spread of aquatic invasive species by following a few simple steps.
· Before leaving a stream, scrub mud and debris off of boots and fishing gear.
· Disinfect boots and equipment by scrubbing or soaking in five percent salt solution (two cups of salt in 2.5 gallons of water) for one minute and then let dry completely. You may also scrub equipment with dishwashing detergent and rinse well.
· Allowing equipment to completely dry for at least 48 hours will also kill Didymo, but realize that felt bottoms of boots may require longer drying times.
· Soak items in very hot water (140° F).
· Freeze overnight.
Anglers are encouraged to report unusual algal mats that may be Didymo to DNR district offices and the Elkins and Charleston offices. Information is also available on the DNRWeb site at www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/didymo.shtm