A study led by Dr. Reuben Goforth of Purdue University has unearthed a troubling fact: Asian carp are now spawning in places that scientists had previously thought were unsuitable to the fish. According to the Huffington Post, Goforth and his team focused primarily on Indiana’s Wabash River, where drifting carp eggs could be found as far as 50 miles upstream.
The study found that Asian carp is now spawning in shallower waters and extending their breeding season to as late as September. The fish is also spawning in smaller streams and at lower temperatures. These changes could mean a higher number of fish, as well as signs that the carp is beginning to feel at home. While the carp are in decline in their native habitats, data shows that the species is adapting vigorously to American waters. American-based carp are large, deep swimmers and notoriously jumpy. Worst of all, the carp’s robustness is shouldering out native animals.
Taken in combination with the threat the fish pose to the Great Lakes, the thought is worrying. While safeguards are in place to prevent carp from entering the world’s largest freshwater lake system, it is safe to say that the fish are laying siege. A $7 billion industry that affects multiple nearby states is in jeopardy if the fish take hold in the Great Lakes.
Elsewhere in the country, wildlife departments are organizing new tactics against the carp, including enlisting commercial fishermen.
Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service