Friday, February 10, 2012

Creature Feature: Asian Carp.

Hoo boy. This entry's a doozie; it combines one of my civic engagement projects with this blog. You guys are getting a sneak preview of a presentation that will occur on Feb 16th in my Environmental Sustainability course. Consider this studying, for I will be using terms that I have learned in the course!

By sheer luck of the draw, my group project for this course wound up being one of my favorite topics: invasive species.  Yes, many of us are mad about the Burmese Python being effectively banned. However, another invasive species has made itself even more worthy of government attention.

Yes, that is a carp. No, it will not evolve into Gyarados at Level 20. The seven species of "Asian carp" (there are a LOT of carp species, don't make me list them all) are proving to be quite the troublemakers all across the U.S. The main three are the bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), and black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus).  The grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) has also been found, but it is uncertain if they are reproducing. Also, their Splash attack is far from useless.

The Asian carp first came as a means of cleaning catfish farms down south. Unfortunately, when the Mississippi flooded over, the carp spread to other waterways...and ran (swam?) rampant throughout the U.S. This time, the pet trade is not solely to blame, but it certainly does not help that some Asian cultures consider releasing carp a way of bringing good fortune.

But these are carp. Carp. One of the most basic fish in the world. What harm can carp do?

From Sandusky Register.

Actually, carp can be quite damaging. They eat plankton - stuff at the bottom of the food chain. Anyone who knows about the food web or food chains knows that the small things at the bottom are the ones we have to worry about. Plankton are photosynthetic, which means that a lot of things eat them. They cannot endure the strain of native species and these new carp.

On a purely human level, these carp are dangerous. Every time a boat passes by, they jump out of the water en masse. They can weigh up to 110 pounds. No, they have not killed anybody yet, but it's only a matter of time. Murderkarp will become a reality.

No need to wait, actually.

The Asian carp are now trying to get into Chicago and the Great Lakes ecosystem. Holy carp! What are we to do?

There are already a few projects underway to stop the carp. One of them involves an electric barrier. A few more recent ideas by the "Carp Czar" (yes, that is an official title; it currently belongs to one John Goss) suggest poisoning and genetic engineering. My personal favorite, however, is the idea of eating the carp. A lot of the fish in the sea are harvested unsustainably, and how many people really question what kind of fish is in fish sticks? (It's usually pollock, by the way.) Carp goes for about 4 bucks a pound, and if you advertise that the fish sticks are environmentally-friendly and/or locally-farmed, that is sure to attract buyers. Plus, hey, shooting carp is an extreme sport:

Probably the first and last time you will ever hear carp to rock music.


  1. Man, that video is ridiculous! Reminds me of Ernie saying "heeeere fishie, fishie, fishie."

  2. Fish locally for carp to protect the local food chain? Sounds like a plan.

    Wouldn't electric barriers affect other species in and around the waters?