During the 1970’s there were some huge algae problems in the commercial fish farms of the Midwest and the solution sure seemed fairly simple, at least at the time. It was decided that Asian carp, also known as algae consuming machines, would be introduced into the lakes; lo and behold the algae problem is indeed gone. However, it has left behind a bigger problem and that is the Asian carp itself.
This particular fish has some interesting abilities, the first of which is that it can actually leap about ten feet out of the water. Why is this so interesting? Because it enabled them to free themselves of the fish farms and find their way into the Illinois and Mississippi rivers where they have revealed another interesting ability – ecological domination.
Keep in mind that these fish, as adults, can weigh over 40 pounds (now imagine anything weighing 40lbs leaping around in the air) and have an insatiable appetite, eating everything biological that they can find (unless, of course, it is baited on a hook). This means they have become the rivers apex as far as the food pyramid goes, which means they have absolutely no predators.
The number of Asian carp is growing rapidly while commercial fishermen are leaving by the hundreds which in turn places a big strain on all local economies. Experts are concerned that they will soon find their way to the Great Lakes and make haste in calling it home before moving to the many tributaries. This may very well drive out the trout and salmon that are currently supporting the multi-billion dollar industry.
More recently, Asian carp DNA has been detected in water samples taken from Chicago testing stations. Even though Federal officials say that the electric barrier 25 miles south of Lake Michigan is keeping the fish out of the lake, these tests are still coming back positive in high numbers. To date, only one Asian carp has been physically spotted past the barrier.
Still, great and uncharted measures are being taken in the rivers, lakes and even the courtroom to keep the invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The hopes are that these measures are adequate in order to preserve both the regional ecology and economy.
- U.S. announces more steps to contain Asian carp (reuters.com)
- Asian Carp: New Ways to Track Then in The Great Lakes (socyberty.com)
- Fed. officials plan stepped-up fight against carp (msnbc.msn.com)
- Asian carp: Midwest states welcome new US efforts — but still want more – Christian Science Monitor (news.google.com)
- Fight escalates over plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes (physorg.com)