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Entries in Mississippi River (39)

Monday
Aug192013

Asian Carp More Adaptable Than Previously Thought

Researchers from Purdue University have made some unsettling discoveries regarding Asian carp.

“It looks like the carp can probably become established in a wider range of environmental conditions than once thought,” said Reuben Goforth, an assistant professor of forestry and natural resources.

Goforth and associates learned that the exotic invaders are spawning in waters previously thought too narrow or slow moving. That means even more sport fisheries are at risk.

On a semi-positive note, he added, ‘’While the presence of eggs indicates a successful spawning of these fishes in new areas, it’s not known yet whether those eggs would be successful in surviving to adulthood.”

Additionally, they found evidence of carp spawning far upstream and eggs drifting in water as late as September in Indiana’s Wabash River. Previously, reproduction was thought to end in July.

Until now, most information related to where Asian carp might spawn was based on data gathered from their native habitats in Asian rivers and streams.

“The reason truly invasive species are so successful is because they overcome obstacles,” Goforth said. “When you base their limitations on what happens in their native ecosystems, it’s a good start. But it may be a good idea to go back and take this new data to recalculate more precise limits based on these new understandings.”

Support Grows for Separation 

Those who want to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp invasion by removing the manmade connection between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin have a new ally.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn surprised many when he endorsed that solution during a meeting with other governors here.

“Ultimately, I think we have to separate the basins,” he said. “I really feel that is the ultimate solution. We have to do it.”

Chris Kolb of the Michigan Environmental Council called Quinn’s remarks “a very positive step forward.” And Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said, “I think it’s great to see people talking about longer-term solutions.”

In the past, Illinois sided with Indiana, the city of Chicago, and the Obama administration in opposing the separation. They argued that closure would increase flood risks, while damaging tourism and commerce.

“It’s important that we deal with this issue, but it’s also important that we deal with it in a way that preserves the logistical advantage and opportunity to move commerce through the region,” said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

But Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have long favored the strategy and even sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chicago’s water district. In a suit they lost, they claimed that refusal to separate the watersheds created a public nuisance.

The strongest argument for closing the aquatic highway, though, is that an explosion of Asian carp in the Great Lakes could decimate the system’s fishery, worth an estimated $7.5 billion annually. Additionally, the connection leaves the way open for other invasive species to cross watersheds.

The connecting canal was constructed more than a century ago, to allow Chicago’s sewage pollution to flow downstream, instead of contaminating the city’s Lake Michigan water supply. It also allowed for commercial navigation.

(These articles appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Tuesday
Aug132013

'Boys, Oh Boys... I Think He's Come Back for His Noon Feeding'

Did you miss Shark Week on the Discovery Channel? Never fear.

I’ll get you up to speed.

But, first, we’d better get a bigger boat, especially if we’re going fishing in the Potomac River, which is mostly noted by anglers for its largemouth bass and snakeheads.

And we’d better upgrade the hooks on our Zara Spooks.

That’s because a couple of 8-foot bull sharks have shown up there recently.

"When I first seen it, it was like 'Jaws' -- we need a bigger boat!" said Willy Dean, a commercial fisherman who found one of the big predators in his net.

"I'm not kidding you. It looked huge. I didn't know how we were gonna get it out. It's my first shark. I've been fishing here a little over 30 years, and it's the first time I've even seen one."

Read the story here.

Now, let’s head over to Australia, where bull sharks have taken up residence in a golf course lake. Talk about a “water hazard.”

More details are here.

And Lake Nicaragua in Central America? I'd watch my back if I ventured into that body of freshwater.

“The picture above was taken in 2000 at the San Ramon Biological Station, Maderas National Park; it serves as evidence that sharks, indeed, do exist in Lake Nicaragua today. Two young, adult bull sharks are shown with Anna Maria Adamo (the former consul to the USA) and Rene Molina Valenzuela. The sharks were accidentally caught in the nets of local fisherman while fishing for other food species such as guapote and mojarra, as fishing for the sharks in Lake Nicaragua is not allowable. Thanks to Anna Maria Adamo for the photo. 

“Nicaragua's freshwater sharks have been migrating up the Rio San Juan to Lake Nicaragua from the Atlantic Ocean, for as long as people can remember. Lake Nicaragua used to be well populated with bull sharks until the 1960s and 1970s when Nicaragua allowed Japan to build and operate a shark fin processing plant on the shores of the Rio San Juan. There was even a shark fin processing plant on the lake shores near Granada during the golden days of Nicaragua.”

Read more here.

And how about the bull shark that swam up the Mississippi River, all the way to Alton, Ill.? Maybe this explains why Jimmy Hoffa’s body hasn’t been found since he disappeared in 1975.

“Officially, bull sharks have made it up the Mississippi as far as Illinois. In the town of Alton, Illinois, which is above St. Louis, two commercial fishermen caught a bull shark in the river. This shark had been raiding their fish traps, and they decided to catch the culprit once and for all. They set a big trap, one that would catch the biggest muskellunge or pike.  They were certainly shocked to find that it was a shark raiding their traps.

“Now, there is another interesting story that should be added. Although no official record of it exists, a man was supposedly attacked by a shark in Lake Michigan in 1955. This attack supposedly happened at one of the beaches near Chicago. The shark may have traveled through the Illinois River and then took a trip up the Michigan and Illinois Canal.

"However, the canal was disused and parts of it had already started falling in. It could have made it up the St. Lawrence Seaway and into the Great Lakes system. How it made it through the locks and dams on the St. Lawrence is a very good question. Further, bull sharks have been found only as far north as Massachusetts. None have been reported in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where they could enter the river and seaway.”

Learn more here.

The inspiration for  the novel “Jaws”? Peter Benchley supposedly got the idea from 1916 shark attacks along the inland waters of New Jersey.

“In the summer of 1916, panic struck the Jersey Shore. A shark sunk its teeth into Charles Vansant, the 25-year-old son of a Philadelphia businessman, out for an evening swim in the resort town of Beach Haven on July 1. A lifeguard pulled him ashore, but he quickly bled to death. Five days later, and 45 miles to the north, in Spring Lake, New Jersey, Charles Bruder, a young bellhop at a local hotel, met a similar fate.

“Then, something even stranger happened. The rogue great white traveled 30 miles north of Spring Lake and into Matawan Creek. On July 12, Lester Stillwell, 11, was playing in the creek 16 miles inland when the shark attacked. A young man named Watson Stanley Fisher attempted to save the boy, but was fatally injured in the process. 

“Joseph Dunn was luckier. The teenager, the shark’s fifth victim, was bitten in the creek less than a half-hour later and survived.”

Go here for more details.

And, finally, here’s an interview with Bruce Fintale, who played the shark in the blockbuster movie that has spawned hundreds of sea monster movies.

And, we can’t forget the latest film epic, Sharknado.

Now, let’s all go swimming, shall we?

Friday
Aug092013

Minnesotans Want Locks Closed to Protect Fisheries from Asian Carp

Minnesotans are worried about Asian carp moving into inland lakes from the Mississippi River--- and justifiably so. As they’ve spread out from the lower Mississippi states, where they escaped, they’ve proven inexorable in their expansion, often riding in on flood waters.

Dennis Anderson at the StarTribune says this:

“Waiting this long to close some combination of the Upper or Lower St. Anthony locks, or the lock at Ford Dam, on the Mississippi River to stop Asian carp from infesting the state’s northern waters, is among the dumbest stunts Minnesota has pulled.

“Every day the locks stay open, the state’s inaction is dumber still.”

Also, a poll released by the National Wildlife Federation and other groups reveals that 63 percent of Minnesotans would support closing the locks in Minneapolis to prevent the spread of Asian carp.

“Minnesotans understand that fishing is not just a major part of our Minnesota economy, it is part of our quality of life and heritage," said state senator Amy Klobuchar. "That's why I convinced my colleagues in the Senate to pass my amendment closing the lock. The legislation needs to now pass the House."

Saturday
Jul202013

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.

Friday
Mar152013

Commercial Tournament Highlights Carp Threat to Sport Fisheries

Commercial fishermen bring in catch during tournament. AP photo.

The threat that Asian carp pose to the north --- Great Lakes, upper Missouri River impoundments, inland Minnesota waters from the upper Mississippi, etc. --- makes most of the headlines these days.

But these prolific nuisance species also are moving south and east through the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers systems. And the severity of the invasion in these waters is evidenced by the results of a recent first-of-its-kind commercial fishing tournament at Kentucky and Barkley lakes.

Eleven teams brought in 82,953 pounds of Asian carp. That’s short of the 200,000-pound goal, but 41 tons are more than enough to reveal the extent of the problem.

The Gleaner.com reports the following:  

"It validated some of the things we had thought, that good skilled fisherman can come in there and take out 10,000 pounds a day, all you have to do is create a market," Kentucky Fish and Wildlife spokesman Mark Marraccini said on Thursday. The fish can be harvested to produce fertilizers, pet foods, and fish oil products, he said. They are also edible.

State officials are concerned about the rapid spread of the fish in Barkley and Kentucky lakes. The carp breed faster than some native species and eat up the algae and zooplankton that other fish depend on.

The Asian carp infiltrated the Mississippi River in the 1970s after getting loose from fish farms. Federal officials, worried about the species reaching the Great Lakes, are conducting a study to investigate how Asian carp DNA got into rivers and canals in the Chicago area.

Ron Brooks, Kentucky's fisheries director, said one species of the problem fish, the silver carp, is prone to leaping out of the water when agitated by boat noise, which can injure boaters and skiers.

Brooks said state officials will make tweaks to the next tournament to attract more fishing teams.

The two-day tournament winner was Barry Mann of Gilbertsville. His team hauled in 28,669 pounds and won a top prize of $10,000. The commercial teams used nets since the carp don't bite on baited hooks. More than 20 teams signed up but just 11 teams brought in fish for weighing, Marraccinni said.

The removed carp were taken to a processing plant in Mississippi, where they will be harvested for fish oils and used in pet foods, Marraccini said.

Here’s a video about the tournament.

To learn more about the threat that Asian carp pose to the east and south check out

Asian Carp Also Threaten Southern Fisheries.