The last time you visited a Petco or Petsmart store on the SouthCoast, there is a possibility that you may have unknowingly brought home a damaging sea creature. I know, it sounds incredibly creepy, but amazingly, it's true.

According to PetSmart, customers that bought Marimo Moss Balls in the aquarium section of the pet stores are being asked to be careful with them, as they may contain very destructive sea creatures. They are called zebra mussels. Never heard of them? You're not alone.

Zebra mussels almost sound like something magical out of a Harry Potter book, but they are a type of marine life that is not helpful to the ecosystem. They grow quickly and they breed quickly. These are things you do not want in your aquarium.

Zebra mussels are regarded as one of the most destructive invasive species in North America. They can quickly take over once they get established in a waterbody and cause significant damage including disrupting the food chain, changing the chemistry of the water and clogging water intake and delivery systems. The concern is that live mussels released into a storm drain or flushed could be introduced into a waterway. – PetSmart

U.S. Fish and Wildlife recommends that you destroy the moss balls by either freezing, boiling, or bleaching them before putting them into a sealed container and throwing them away.

If you don't feel comfortable destroying and disposing of the moss balls, you can also return them to the store.

Petsmart has locations in Fall River, Swansea, Bourne and Raynham. Petco has SouthCoast locations at Wareham Crossing, Dartmouth, Seekonk and Taunton.

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