A team of scientists is concerned the Asian grass carp - an invasive species to the Great Lakes - may be spawning in the Sandusky River, threatening wetlands and basins.
After commercial fisherman found four Asian grass carps in the Sandusky Bay, a team of scientists from the USGS, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and BGSU used pieces of the invasive species' bones to determine they had, in fact, been spawned there.
The plant eating fish can be placed in ponds to clear out vegetation, but Ohio law prohibits importing or stocking waterways with fertile carp because they can deplete the nursery grounds for other fish.
"What we're afraid of in Lake Erie is that if these fish can reproduce enough individuals that in places where we're trying to get more vegetation - we're trying to return wetlands to Lake Erie," said BGSU associate professor Dr. Jeffery Miner, a co-author on the report. "We're afraid if we get enough of these particular species in there, that they will start to eat that vegetation and therefore negatively affect the things that we're trying to restore in the system."
Dr. Miner says the four fish found were spawned in 2011, when flow conditions on the Sandusky were favorable. Now, the question remains as to whether the carp - which is difficult to track - could grow and thrive in the Great Lakes Region.
"This is one smoking gun that says, 'yes - they could probably survive or get some natural reproduction that would occur in the Sandusky River,'" said Dr. Miner.
He says scientists will continue to conduct water sampling and efforts to keep the carp out of the Great Lakes.