Killer Shrimp, Flying Fish as Big as Teenagers: Great Lakes States Battle Invasive Species

In 2012, the electronic barriers temporarily malfunctioned, leaving the Great Lakes unprotected from infestation.

“Right now there are 180 invasive species and growing. Great Lakes fishing can’t afford another one,” Captain Denny Grinold of Fish “N” Grin Charter Service in Grand Haven explained. “If they go the way the sea lamprey did, they will destroy the fisheries.”

Canada is scared, too.

The Canadian government has invested $17.5 million to protect Canada’s Great Lakes from the threat of Asian carp.

The Canadians began by assessing the ecological impact of Asian carp on the Great Lakes.

Becky Cudmore, senior science adviser on aquatic and invasive species for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said that policy analysts used that information to conduct an economic impact assessment.

There are no hard facts yet, but “from around the basin in Canada and the U.S. commercial and recreational fisherman, people involved in the outfitters and tourist industry are concerned,” she said. “We hope that the ecological risk assessment will help people protect the ecology and economy of the Great Lakes.”

The Army Corps of Engineers has tried a variety of measures to beat the Asian carp from water cannon to electric fishing, but recommended in June the construction of permanent barriers that would cut off Lake Michigan from Chicago’s waterways, which seem to be a breeding ground for the carp.

But that won’t happen quickly or inexpensively. At a bare minimum, it’s an $18 million plan that would take 25 years to finish.

Critics say the barrier plan is also inadequate because it doesn’t take into account other waterways that feed into the Great Lakes.

As worrisome as the Asian carp and the killer shrimp are to the future of the Great Lakes, Popoff said it is the red swamp crayfish that is “on our doorstep.”

Not only is it mean, ugly and hungry, Popoff said red swamp crayfish are as tough to get rid of as your unemployed brother-in-law after he finds the key to your liquor cabinet.

“Wisconsin had to literally pave ponds over to get rid of them,” Popoff said.

The red swamp crayfish is also the only member of the Great Lakes’ invasive species list that is native to the U.S. The others are still busy chewing their way through the rest of the world’s waterways.

“We are taking a global view of this,” said Popoff. “These species are wreaking havoc in other places in the world, so let’s put a front up and not let them come here.”

Could Killer Shrimp-Nado, the Movie be next?

“Maybe you should call the SyFy Channel on that,” Popoff said.