Monday, September 15, 2008

When Fish Fly

"The fish are jumping, but not in a good way." So explains a fascinating—and frightening—article by Dan Barry in The New York Times. It seems that Asian carp—a highly invasive species of fish—are wreaking havoc on the Illinois River. The local carp population has grown exponentially, which is bad news for the area's native species and for commercial and recreational boaters. You see, the carp perceive boats as predators and respond by flinging their bodies into the air. The result is a terrifying popcorn-effect: scads of carp hurling themselves out of the water and regularly smacking boat operators in the torso and face.

Because the Illinois is part of a series of waterways that connect Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico, there are serious concerns that these dangerous jumpers will invade the Great Lakes. So much so that according to The Times, the Army Corps of Engineers is expanding an underwater electrical barrier it previously built in Romeoville, Illinois. The barrier sends out currents intended to keep the carp (and other species) from making their way to Lake Michigan.

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