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Floods may widen spread of invasive carp

Associated Press / June 11, 2011

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NEW ORLEANS — As scientists battle to keep an invasive fish species out of the Great Lakes, some worry that spring floods along the Mississippi River may be spreading the Asian carp downstream.

Duane Chapman, a US Geological Survey biologist and Asian carp expert, says the fish are likely to show up in places where Mississippi floodwaters intruded. They can weigh up to 100 pounds, grow to be 4 feet long, and live for 25 years as they crowd out food sources of native species.

“I think there is a very serious issue,’’ said Chapman. “We may now be finding them in lakes, ponds, bayous, anywhere the river water went. Those things will be full of carp now.’’

Asian carp is a term applied to several related species of carp brought to the United States in the 1970s to control algae in catfish farms in the South. Floods washed them into the Mississippi in the 1980s.

Since their escape into the wild, the carp have established themselves in both the Mississippi and Missouri river basins.

The battle to keep them out of the Great Lakes includes use of underwater cameras and sonar to monitor the effectiveness of the Army Corps of Engineers’ electronic barriers.