Apparently zebra mussels are not all bad

Two Manitoba Conservation employees stationed at the Arnes Harbour in Lake Winnipeg to keep watch over gated curtains that are part of the treatment to eradicate the invasive species are being credited with helping to avoid a potentially fatal situation on Saturday.

“For an invasive species, they kind of helped out today. It’s probably the only time a zebra mussel has done anything good,” quipped Al Roschuk, safety and health co-ordinator with the Department of Conservation and Water Stewardship.

Stacey Ledingham first noticed two people in a boat about one kilometre north of the harbour at about 10 a.m.

After she grabbed a set of binoculars to be sure, she noticed a canoe upside down and two men wearing life jackets in the water.

She notified Roschuk, who called the proper authorities as well as a injection boat from ASI Consulting Group, hired by the province to oversee the project, that was in the water nearby. The boat unhooked its hoses and headed off toward the canoeists.

Meanwhile, Dave Jonasson ran over to a commercial fishing shack nearby and a group of five fishermen headed out in a yawl. They were able to reach the canoeists first, rescuing two men in their 40s who’d been in the water for about 7-10 minutes.

Roschuk said the men’s lips had turned blue and they were “visibly shaking.” They were treated on scene by emergency personnel for mild hypothermia.

“The reality of it is if those two Conservation employees weren’t being attentive and doing the jobs they’re supposed to, (the men’s) families would’ve had a very bad day today,” Roschuk said. “it was a very positive ending to a really bad situation.”

Roschuk said the men were Winnipeggers up visiting family in the area who’d gone out fishing in a 12-foot aluminum canoe, apparently unaware of how dangerous the lake can be.

— Winnipeg Sun