Why Asian Carp threaten bodies of water

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota finds itself in yet another fight against an invasive species, only this time it’s in the water. Asian Carp have invaded several bodies of water. The fish were first spotted in Vermillion along the Missouri River back in 2005. Now they’ve been spotted in the Big Sioux River in the Sioux Falls area. 

“With the volume of water that was moving, it was going to be very unlikely that the fish would be able to swim through that current and up the falls, the only real possible way to get around the falls is if we saw bigger floods this spring, which is very, very unlikely,” BJ Schall, invasive species biologist, said. “

The Asian carp have also made their way up the Vermillion River, all the way to just below the spillway at Lake Vermillion.  Wildlife officials urge anglers to not transport the fish to other bodies of water, leave them where you see them.  

They’re called the silent invaders, but Asian carp are making a lot of noise in the nation as they invade more bodies of water. According to the National Park Service, they’re threats to ecosystems and fishing industries. They grow and spread quickly because they lay thousands of eggs per time multiple times per year. Once they invade, they are virtually impossible to get rid of from most waters. They get into other bodies of water by jumping over barriers, like low dams. Our recent flooding could also be why we’re seeing them in the Big Sioux River. When flooding connects bodies of water, the fish can swim to new areas. 

Here’s why they’re a problem. The National Park Service says the fish seriously damage native fish populations in lakes and rivers. Once they infest waters, they battle the fish that already live there for food and space. They essentially push out the native species. Experts also believe they lower water quality, which can kill other organisms that are already there. 

Then there is the jumping. These carp are known to jump out of the water at very high speeds. We’ve captured it on video, and you can see how forceful they are when they jump. This can hurt boaters, kayakers, or anyone on the water. They can also damage equipment. 

How did they get here in the first place?

These are different from the common carp that have been here since the 1800s. There are four types of fish under the Asian carp category: bighead carp, black carp, grass carp, and silver carp. They’re from Europe and Asia, but America brought them over in 1970s to control weed and parasite growth in aquatic farms. They eventually got into the Mississippi River and established breeding populations and spread from there.  

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