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Invasive Plants Spread More by Boats Than Birds

UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

Continuing research suggests that boats rather than birds are the primary means for introducing aquatic invasive species into Wisconsin lakes.

“The fact that accessible lakes are the ones that are invaded indicates that these species are moved by boaters,” said Alex Latzka, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Limnology (CFL).

“While birds could transport invasive species from one lake to another, our finding that remote lakes do not have invasive species strongly indicates that birds are not an important factor.”

Scientists at CFL and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are two years into a five-year study that explores the spread and distribution of exotic plants and animals in the state’s inland lakes. They hope that their monitoring of 450 lakes will uncover trends in dispersal of invasives such as Eurasian water milfoil that will allow time and funds to be better utilized toward protecting those waters where only native species are present.

“People often think that the lakes that are the most worthy of our protection and most susceptible to invasion are the pristine wilderness lakes,” Latzka said. “With those kinds of lakes are iconic in the Wisconsin northwoods, they are not the lakes most vulnerable to invasive species.”

Additionally, a lot of variability exists within lakes that have human development. For example, just 30 percent of fisheries with public access have water milfoil, while fewer than 20 percent zebra mussels. Those are promising numbers since both species have been in the state for decades.

Also encouraging is the fact that the number of lakes with invasive species remained about the same for the first two years of the study.

By finding out why these invaders have not spread to all lakes with human development and by pinpointing fisheries most at risk, scientists hope to better predict and, ideally, prevent the additional spread of invasives.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Decatur Heritage Team Wins B.A.S.S. High School Invitational

Photo by Shaye Baker/B.A.S.S.

Mitchell Gowen and Brianna Tucker of Decatur Heritage outfished 65 other high school teams Saturday to win the 2013 B.A.S.S. High School Invitational on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., according to

This was the first event of its kind and netted the team a spot in the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic, which will be held in conjunction with the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Gowen and Tucker will be joined in the Classic by the rest of the top 8 finishers from the invitational.

“I just want to thank God for giving us the opportunity to fish,” said Tucker, who was responsible for four of the five fish the team weighed in Saturday. “I also want to thank our boat captain.”

Norman Brown, their boat captain, said that things did not start off with a bang, but his team stayed focus and for that he was proud of them, as they eventually checked in with 16 pounds, 15 ounces of largemouth bass.

“Around 9 [a.m.] I think they only had one fish,” he said.

“Once we started catching them, it kind of happened all at once,” Tucker said.

“She caught the first three back-to-back-to-back,” Brown said.

That initial burst was triggered by water generated through Guntersville Dam.

The team fished a few spots upriver from Decatur, and it wasn’t until the current arrived that the team finally found its groove.

“The last two we had to scrape for,” Brown said. “We probably caught 10 fish. The biggest one they weighed in was around 4 and 1/2 [pounds] and the smallest was about 2 and 3/4 [pounds].”

Finding a consistent, quality bite helped Decatur Heritage overcome some of the bigger fish weighed in Saturday, including the 5-3 Carhartt Big Bass caught by Jake Turnbloom and JT Russell of Briarwood Christian.

The majority of the fish that Tucker and Gowen brought to the scales came on a Norman DD22 crankbait. Gowen also caught one fish dragging a big worm.

In addition to Tucker’s and Gowen’s 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic berth, the duo and Brown received exclusive backstage privileges for the entire 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

Joining Tucker and Gowen in the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic are runners-up Jarrett Martin and Billy Powers of Gallia Academy High School, third-place finishers Tanner Jones and Clay Teague of Tuscaloosa County High School, fourth-place finishers Beau Ashcraft and Shawn Zellers of Wabash Valley Bassmasters, fifth-place finishers John Garrett and Peyton Lyons of Obion County Student Anglers, sixth-place finishers Ryan Winchester and Justin Burris of Clinton High School, seventh-place finishers Jake Lee and Jacob Mashburn of Clinton High School, and eighth-place finishers Ben Stone and Christopher Bensel of Dixie High School.


Asian Carp Infestation Worst in Mississippi, Missouri Basins

USGS bighead carp distribution map

Asian carp have been found in fisheries from Colorado to New Jersey and from North Dakota to Florida, according to a map released recently by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

 “Asian Carp Distribution in North America” displays the presence of bighead and silver carp at all life stages, as well as black carp and grass carp occurrences. Since three bighead carp have been collected in the western basin over the years by commercial fishermen, Lake Erie is one of the green shaded areas, which indicates the presence of at least one adult fish. (This is not the map shown above. Go to link to see more detailed map.)

Not surprisingly, the most intense infestation is in the Mississippi and Missouri River watersheds, including the Illinois River, which connects to Lake Michigan via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

On the positive side, no Asian carp have been found above the canal’s electric barriers during the past two years, despite hundreds of interagency monitoring trips, including 192 hours of electrofishing and 82 miles of netting.

But on the southeast side of the Mississippi River watershed, meanwhile, Asian carp are a growing problem for the Tennessee River and especially Kentucky Lake.

"Asian Carp by the thousands are flooding Kentucky Lake, causing a problem for fishermen, regular boaters and the other fish. With no natural predators the Asian carp are single-handedly eating the entire food supply, reports WBBJ.


Jellyfish Invasions Threaten World's Oceans

More than two years ago, Activist Angler began telling you about the growing number of jellyfish “blooms” in our oceans. (Here’s a link to one of those posts.)

Some scientists think that the decline of jellyfish predators (sea turtles, as well as some species of fish) specifically and the decline of fish populations generally are allowing jellyfish to thrive and spread as never before.

But the fact that this phenomenon coincides with an increasing frequency of troublesome alga blooms in freshwater suggests something more is going on.

And that something more likely is pollution. Both types of these blooms thrive in nutrient-rich water, and we provide these nutrients from sewage discharges and runoff laced with fertilizers and manure from farm lands.

 In the way of an update on this problem, I refer you to a recent article at ABC News: "Monsters of the Deep: Jellyfish Threaten the World’s Seas."

Following are a couple of excerpts.

Worldwide Problem

It isn't just a problem in the Mediterranean, but worldwide. Especially in late summer, swimmers in the North and Baltic Seas often encounter lion's mane jellyfish, which are known as "fire jellyfish," and for good reason. Their stringy stinging tentacles are often the color of flames. Far more common in the region are blooms of milky-blue moon jellyfish, which, like the majority of jellyfish species, do not inflict pain on human beings.

Compass and crystal jellyfish now dominate the coastal waters of Namibia, where sardines were once abundant. And since the mid-1990s, fishermen in the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea have complained that their nets are being filled with more and more jellyfish and fewer and fewer fish.

A species prevalent in Japanese waters could provide the material for a horror film: the giant Nemopilema nomurai, or Nomura's jellyfish, with a bell diameter of up to two meters (6 feet, 6 inches). In the last century, there were only three population blooms of the species, in 1920, 1958 and 1995. But Japanese scientists report that the Nomura's jellyfish has invaded Asian waters almost every year since 2002, with only two light years in the interim: 2004 and 2010. The species is so heavy that large numbers caught in nets can capsize fishing vessels.

What does all of this signify? Why are the seas becoming jellified?

Gili wrinkles his brow. "The jellyfish are a message in a bottle that the sea is depositing on our beaches," he says. The ocean's message to mankind, he adds, is simple: "You are destroying me."

Costly and Harmful

 The fact that human beings and jellyfish tangle with one another more frequently than in the past is unpleasant for both sides. It also costs many millions each year, although the exact costs are difficult to estimate. For instance, jellyfish often cause power outages and equipment damage when they enter the cooling water systems of power plants and desalination plants.

Jellyfish are also harmful to fishery. They ruin nets and cause chemical burns on the hands of fishermen. If a jellyfish bloom collides with the nets that separate fish farms from the open water, the creatures' toxins can sometimes kill all of the animals in the enclosures.

And then there is the problem oceanographer Josep Maria Gili can see from his terrace: Jellyfish on the beach, coinciding with the vacation season, are a debacle for tourism. These days it is the reddish, glow-in-the-dark jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca, or mauve stinger, that lurks in the waters off Barcelona. In recent days, Red Cross paramedics have had to treat at least 400 swimmers a day for jellyfish injuries. A yellow warning flag is posted on the beach below, and a voice blaring from loudspeakers warns bathers in Spanish, French and English to be careful around jellyfish.


Oklahoma Fisheries Receive Record Stocking with Florida Bass

Photo by Steve Webber/ODWC

Great news for those who fish for bass in Oklahoma waters.

A record-setting 2.22 million Florida-strain largemouth bass--- fry, fingerlings, and adult fish--- were stocked in 44 lakes this past spring. That was made possible by exceptional production at three of the state’s fish hatcheries.

“We had a good situation this year by having so many fish,” said Cliff Sager, a senior biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife. “Being able to stock 44 lakes, to give so many lakes a shot in the arm with the Florida genetics, just increased the potential for trophy bass production for years to come.

In waters where they thrive, Florida-strain largemouth bass not only grow larger than the northern variety, but hybrids produced when the two cross-breed often experience accelerated growth for a generation or two in a phenomenon known as “hybrid vigor.”

"Oklahoma is really right on the line of where you can expect Florida bass to be successful," said Sager, adding that the southern half of the state has shown much greater success in sustaining Florida-strain bass.

"There's a reason Cedar Lake (in southeastern Oklahoma) has broken the state record the past two years."