White Leaping Carp
Invasive foreign species has become a serious global issue.
Today I read that giant Asian Leaping Carp are heading to the Great Lakes, the world's largest collective body of fresh water.
The Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million Americans.
I saw fishermen being attacked by these leaping fish on TV awhile ago, but I did not see the beginning of the newscast, and had no way of knowing what type of fish they were or the location.
Yes, these huge Carp have actually injured boaters, and several boaters have had to use garbage can lids as a shield. The vibration from the boats cause the Asian Leaping Carp to suddenly leap out of the water - and these fish can weigh up to 100 pounds! Can you imagine trying to fend off a 100 pound fish with a garbage can lid?
The story of how these giant carp came to be in our U.S. waterways comes from the State of Arkansas. The fish were contained there in fish farms, and due to severe flooding in the 90's, the fish escaped into the Mississippi River, and then into the tributaries.
The giant Carp filter huge amounts of water, along with consuming a whopping 40% of their body weight per day. In other words, they eat all the plant and animal life that form the aquatic food chain.
After the food chain is gone, then deadly algae forms. Some of this algae emits toxins which cause skin irritation, severe illness and in some cases death. This toxic algae also lends a swamp taste and smell to drinking water.
Now back to the Great Lakes issue - around the city of Chicago is a small underwater canal, with an electrical field, and this is the only thing separating the giant Carp from entering the Great Lakes. "The electric barrier is rather crude, but it's the best thing we have now," said ecologist David Lodge of Notre Dame University.
It costs billions to fight invasive foreign species, because a new species is discovered in the Great Lakes every nine months. A couple of years ago, a Chicago fisherman caught a Northern Snakehead - this is another extremely voracious fish that actually comes out of the water, and can move across the land to another body of water.
There are many ways these invaders get into our waterways - ocean vessels dump foreign species from their ballast water, fishermen dump their bait, and even the peaceful Buddhist may play a role.
The Buddhist have a tradition that calls for setting one fish free for each one eaten, and the State of Illinois had to enact a ban on transporting live Carp.