Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A little more on Carp

It's been a fairly busy/interesting/hectic/scary/informative couple of weeks; I wrote a statistics paper (lame!), I presented at our schools research and creative achievement week, I got a crash course in how to trouble shoot ICP-OES, Dr. Norman Halden, one of the worlds experts on mass spectrometry came for a visit, I defended my proposal (at long last), and had some fun with chemistry

Needless to say I haven't posted anything in a while.  However, I have been following some of the recent developments in the potential invasion of the Great Lakes by Asian carp.

Less than a week ago the army corps of engineers activated a new electric barrier on the Chicago sanitary and ship canal to deter the upstream movement of Asian carp into Lake Michigan.  This brings the number of electric barriers on the canal to three.  To my knowledge the original barrier was supposed to crap out around 2007 or 2008 but has kept on chugging, and I am sure repairs have been made since then.  At the same time the original barrier was supposed to bite the dust a second barrier was being added just downstream of the first.  The newest barrier is slightly downstream of the other two.  The multi-barrier array allows for repairs to individual barriers and is a safe guard if for some reason fish are able to bypass one barrier.  The barrier design works in this portion of the canal, because it is a relatively narrow section and the barriers can span the entire width. 

While the barriers appear to work in preventing fish from moving upstream, they may not be as effective in preventing the movement of fish downstream.  A fish moving downstream may become stunned by the electricity and simply drift with the current passed the electric barriers, waking up on the other side.  Also, the Des Plaines river, which runs parallel to the canal may serve as a passage for Asian carp.  During flooding events the Des Plaines River spills into the canal upstream of the electrical barriers.

Today, I read about anglers in Canada advocating permanently breaking the connection between the canal and Lake Michigan.  While this may seem a extreme, I support this idea.  Shipping traffic in the canal is not nearly what it used to be (at least that's what I'm told), and this seems to be the only way to prevent invasive species from naturally moving between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. 

It's an interesting debate, and there are many stakeholders from multiple U.S. states and Canada.  Many questions remain as to the best way to keep the carp out of the Great Lakes, whether they could actually survive in the lakes, and what impact they could have on the lakes.  I am certainly interested in how this plays out. 


  1. What if they close off the canal and it turns out the carp have already gotten into the lake? Wasn't there some evidence that a few may have made it in there already?

  2. I'm not sure if there have been carp already found in the lake, I know they have DNA close to the barrier. It shouldn't really matter if they close off the canal after carp get into the lake. Closing off the canal would prevent other invasive species from moving between the lake and the Mississippi River. Carp aren't the first species to utilize this waterway, round gobies invaded the Mississippi River via the canal from Lake Michigan.

  3. People in the Caribbean are having some potential success getting sharks to eat lionfish. Maybe it's time to stock some bull sharks?