Most Dangerous Alien Species: Toxic Mussels found in Britain's Wetlands
Toxic Quagga Mussels have been found in Britain's Wetlands (representational image)Reuters

A species of mussels, which are dangerous to life forms, was found in a reservoir near the Heathrow Airport in London last week.

The reservoir is a popular spot for sailing, fishing and scuba diving, and the toxic mussels can be harmful to human as well as animal life.

The species, known as Quagga Mussels, are less than 5cm long but they breed prolifically. They are dangerous because they eat pollutants and transform it into toxic excretion, which poisons the water.

Quagga Mussels also have the capacity to smother boat hulls, block pipes and even cause flooding, according to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT).

Wildlife experts describe the species as 'ecosystem engineers' as they are capable of disturbing the natural balance in the food chain. 

"Quagga mussels are likely to indirectly cause suffering and death for hundreds of thousands of native animals, fish and plants and cost millions of pounds in tax and water bills to protect drinking water supplies," WWT's head of conservation policy Jeff Knott said.

Knott further stated that these tiny mussels look so harmless that boaters, anglers and others ignore them, if they latch onto any of their equipment.

WWT claims that a group of scientists discovered that Quagga Mussels are the "greatest single threat to Britain's wildlife of any alien species".

A research by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology back in June described the species as "the top ranking threat to our natural biodiversity".

"It is important that we take action to address the threats posed by invasive non-native species. They threaten the survival of our own plants and animals and cost the economy at least £1.8 billion a year," The Independent quoted the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.