Oh, Carp!

Here’s some scary news just in time for Halloween. The only grass carp in Ohio’s waters were supposed to be sterile. But research has just confirmed that some of the fish found in Ohio’s Sandusky River last year can reproduce. And they themselves came from natural reproduction in the Lake Erie basin.

Grass carp is a type of Asian carp. Like other Asian carp, it’s an invasive species. Invasive species are not native to areas where they cause problems. They can take over ecosystems by upsetting the balance of the native species.

Having watched way too many science fiction movies, I wondered whether this was like Jurassic Park. In that movie based on Michael Crichton’s novel, supposedly sterile dinosaurs at a theme park wind up being able to reproduce after all.

However, there’s no evidence of that. “It’s much more likely that fertile diploid fish were introduced into the system at a high enough rate for them to finally reproduce,” Duane Chapman at the U.S. Geological Survey says.

Chapman and other scientists at USGS and Bowling Green State University did the research that was just published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research. Diploid means that an organism has two sets of each gene in its cells. That’s necessary in order for sexual reproduction to take place.

Nonetheless, the news is still scary. The findings heighten fears that the species could upset the ecological balance in the Great Lakes.

Grass carp breed like mosquitoes and eat like hogs,” says Kristy Meyer, a scientist at The Ohio Environmental Council. The research also suggests that even more destructive species of Asian carp could establish themselves in the basin.

That would be a real nightmare.

Image by Dezidor from Wikimedia.

Image by Dezidor from Wikimedia.

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