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Search for Mystery Snails in N. Virginia

Main Project Information
Presented By Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Goal Better understand invasive snails in the Potomac River
Task Citizen scientists will collect snails on foot or by kayak
Where 9751 Ox Road, 22079 Virginia 22079 United States

Mystery snails (Bellamya chinensis and Bellamya japonica) are two non-native snail species from the viviparidae family found within North America, including right here in the Potomac River watershed. Originally transported from Asia to North America, and sold as a food commodity or ornamental garden species over 100 years ago, the snails are now found across the Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes, New England, and Mid-Atlantic coasts.

Despite their widespread distribution in North American freshwater systems, researchers do not fully understand the morphology and possible impacts of B. chinensis and B. japonica on native freshwater systems such as the Potomac River.

How to Join

Citizen scientists can participate in the Mystery Snail Research Project either by conducting one or more snail surveys from kayaks or canoes from these launch points: Occoquan Regional Park, Mason Neck State Park, or Belle Haven Marina, or by foot in park areas along the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

To participate, citizen scientists will meet at 9am at Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, VA at 9am on the following days (weather permitting):
Saturday, July 12
Saturday, July 26
Sunday, August 10
Sunday, August 24
Saturday, September 13
Saturday, September 27 (if the weather is warm enough)

Citizen scientists will receive a short training from the lead scientist, then they can search by foot or by kayak for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Required Gear

If citizen scientists intend to kayak, they need to provide their own kayaks. No equipment is necessary to collect on foot.

Ideal Age Group College, Graduate students, Adults
Spend the Time outdoors
Type of Activity In oceans, streams, rivers, lakes, On a hike
Tags invasive species, Potomac River, Smithsonian
Project Updated 04/21/2017