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Asian carp: Lake Calumet bighead lived in Great Lakes?

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Testing on the bighead carp found in Lake Calumet in June suggests it might have lived its adult life in the Great Lakes.

Bighead Carp Lake Calumet June 2010

And yes this is another piece of evidence suggesting that shutting the locks down is not the solution for preventing Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. Never has been.

Here's the official word:

Testing complete on Bighead Asian Carp Found in Lake Calumet

Fish could have lived most of its adult life above Electric Barrier Defense System

CHICAGO- A six-year-old Bighead carp that was caught in the waters of Lake Calumet just outside Lake Michigan in late June may have lived nearly its entire life in waters of Great Lakes origin according to tests and analysis conducted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC).

The tests were conducted by the SIUC Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center.
The tests looked at chemical markers in the inner ear bones, or otoliths, of the fish. Otoliths incorporate chemicals into their structure that are unique to the environments in which they live. They have been used in recent years to reconstruct the environmental history of individual fish or fish stocks.

``The inferences about the environmental history of this fish should be viewed as preliminary and inconclusive given the data limitations and assumptions. But it is very plausible that this fish originated in the Illinois River and then moved or was transported to Lake Calumet or Lake Michigan during the early portion of its life" said Dr. Jim Garvey, director of the SIUC Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center.

The Bighead carp, which measured 34.6 inches and weighed nearly 20 pounds, remains the only Asian carp found above the electric barrier despite extensive sampling and search operations since June 22 throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS).

"While this report does not have all the answers, it does suggest to us that the fish caught in Lake Calumet last month may have been put there by humans, perhaps as a ritual cultural release or through bait bucket transfer. It underscores the need for the public to be even more vigilant and educated about Asian carp and the importance of not furthering the spread of these invasive species," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Assistant Director John Rogner.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will continue to work with nearly 60 Chicago area bait shops in September to test for Asian carp DNA and educate bait shop owners on how to tell the difference between Asian carp minnows and other fish with similar characteristics that are commonly used as bait.

Sampling above the electric barriers also remains an important and continued effort in the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, which includes both short and long term actions to stop the migration of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

Sampling and monitoring will continue at five fixed sampling stations throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System as detailed in the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC) Sampling and Monitoring plan to search for Asian carp.

Barrier defense operations will also continue to remove silver or Bighead carp in downstate waters where the fish are known to be present.

To view the entire control framework and to receive the latest updates on sampling efforts in the CAWS, log on to

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Hi Dale, If I may ask, what is the origin of the theory that bigheads have been introduced in area waters through contaminated catfish stockings by IL/DNR?

Because of the origin of the channel catfish from southern fisheries.

Dale, I completely agree with you that this news is further evidence that shutting down the locks is an overreactionary and unnecessary response to the Asian carp threat. Hopefully the politicians who have called for such action will take notice of this news and reconsider their stance, since it appears that the barriers in place are working as they should. It is also positive that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be working with bait shops to educate them on how to recognize young Asian carp to keep them from being used as bait. With this combined effort of holding the carp back (via the barriers) and educating people so no further carp are released into the Lakes, it is possible that we can thwart the threat of Asian carp without resorting to drastic measures.

Your article is absurd and the evidence cited does not support your conclusion. Illinois and Chicago are responsible for preventing asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes and the best way to do that is to cut off their access. If they populate the Great Lakes based on your neglect, Illinois and Chicago will forever be looked at as the destroyers of a great resource.

True Lakefriend, it is another piece of evidence. It is an Asian carp, for which we no explanation for why it is where it was. And with no proof that it came through the Chicago canal system, though the fact it had a long GL history suggests somebody put it there. Just as we have dozens of bigheads in Chicago lagoons with no certain reasons how they got there, though with those we know they did not arrive via the Illinois River and Chicago canal system. The point being that there are multiple proven routes for Asian carp to spread. If you're looking for the absurd, to engage on a massive campaign to shut down one route as though that is the be all end all answer is absurdity of the highest order. Frankly it is a mean and spiteful political stunt primarily by Michigan officials (though others have chimed in).

My dad and i caught this fish last year in calumate it was amazing ill never forget that day

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on August 5, 2010 2:26 PM.

Midwest Fishing Report: Perch & rising rivers was the previous entry in this blog.

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