Scuba Diving

AIS Scuba Diving Image

Divers play an important role in protecting Minnesota waters from aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Invasive species impact divers. Zebra mussels encrust hard surfaces, obstructing views of unique underwater features. Eurasian watermilfoil forms dense mats, getting tangled in equipment and making swimming difficult. Invasive species impact the underwater wildlife we love to observe and change how we use and enjoy Minnesota waters.

Divers can unintentionally transport aquatic invasive species. Seeds, eggs, larvae, small animals, and plant fragments can hide in the nooks and crannies of your gear or in water trapped inside your gear. For example:

  • Water inside your gear could contain microscopic zebra mussel larvae called veligers.
  • Mud and debris in boots or fins may contain small invasive species such as zebra mussels, starry stonewort bulbils, or faucet snails.

To help protect Minnesota waters and comply with state law, here are some best practices to reduce your risk of spreading invasive species from one water body to another:  

Before Your Trip

Plan your visit and your gear.

  • Use non-felt soled boots whenever possible.
  • Bring extra bottled or dechlorinated tap water and leave it in your vehicle to keep leftover baitfish.
  • Bring a cooler with ice to keep your catch fresh.
  • If you are planning to go to multiple locations:
    • Schedule your trip on lakes and rivers without AIS first, before visiting water bodies that the DNR has listed as infested with AIS.
    • If possible, use different gear for each lake or river that you visit. 

Always arrive cleaned and drained. Doublecheck all gear and equipment to ensure it is cleaned and drained before heading out. Always drain water from the boat or equipment away from a waterbody.

Know the laws:

  • It is illegal to transport aquatic plants or prohibited invasive species, dead or alive.
  • It is illegal to transport water away from a lake or river. All water must be drained from gear before transporting off the access site or riparian property. 

Know what to look for. Learn how to identify aquatic invasive species.

After You Are Done on the Water

Take these required steps before leaving the lake, river or wetland:

  • Clean your gear to remove plants, small animals, mud and debris.
  • Drain all water. This includes your buoyancy compensator, boots, and fins.

Consider these additional recommendations. Some invasive species are small and difficult to see. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another lake or river:

  • Rinse your gear with tap water.
  • Dry your gear for 5 days before using it in another lake or river, whenever possible.

Report suspicious aquatic plants and animals to the DNR. Take a picture or collect a specimen, note the exact location, and contact your DNR Invasive Species Specialist or log in and submit a report through EDDMapS.

Additional Information for Dive Shop Owners

Become a lake service provider

If you rent out water-related equipment for use in Minnesota waters, then you are legally considered a lake service provider business. Lake service provider business owners are required to take AIS training and pay a $50 permit fee every three years. Owners must also make sure their employees working with water-related equipment complete employee certificate training every three years. Both owner permit training and employee certificate training are available online for free.

Provide AIS information to your customers

Dive shops are a trusted source of information for divers. Provide your customers with more information about aquatic invasive species (here are some AIS publications) and the actions they can take to prevent their spread.

Learn More

Learn about how to prevent the spread of invasive species while doing other activities on Minnesota water.


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