This week is Invasive Species Week on Absolute Michigan and Michigan in Pictures and today on Absolute Michigan we took a long look at the 800 pound gorilla of invasive species in Michigan, the Asian carp. These frightening fish have made their way up the Mississippi River and can weigh up to 100 pounds, grow to four feet in length, eat voraciously and make rabbits look like pikers when it comes to reproduction. Via TIME Magazine:
“They just eat so much,” says David Ullrich, executive director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. “They’re like the locusts of the river.”
That’s what makes them so dangerous to the lakes. Asian carp aren’t direct predators, but they eat plankton, which knocks out the bottom layers of the food chain. If they were to successfully establish themselves in the Great Lakes and start breeding, they could utterly disrupt the existing ecosystem, potentially starving out the trout and other native fish that make the Great Lakes a tourism hot spot.
Estimates put the Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery at $2.5 to $7 billion. While the loss of this would be a terrible shame, the thought that one day you wouldn’t see photos like this of a parent and child enjoying Michigan’s amazing fishery seems worse to me.
And if you can, make sure you write your representatives to tell them how important it is to stop the Asian carp in Chicago!