According to research from Kim Cuddington of the University of Waterloo, the introduction of just 20 Asian carp into the Great Lakes could cause the probability of the fish’s establishment to soar as high as 75 per cent, under some conditions.

Asian carp. Photo: Kate Gardinr

“Although established Asian carp populations including the Silver and Bighead carps are widely present in the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, it’s expected that it’s only a matter of time before the population migrates through the many hydrological connections to the Great Lakes,” says Cuddington. “Lake Erie, in particular, provides a highly suitable habitat for the fish with very productive embayments for the fish to find food.”

Asian carp can weigh as much as 50 kilograms, and have a minimal mature length of 70 centimetres. They consume 40 per cent of their body weight on a daily basis, and have no natural predators in the Great Lakes area. Considering a female can lay over a million eggs each year, an invasion of Asian carp poses a significant threat to native species.

“This species will have a huge impact on the food web,” says Cuddington. “Not only is it a fast-growing fish physically, but the population itself grows very quickly.”

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