Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Invasive aquatic species...increasingly common and increasingly annoying

Ok let's face it, no one likes the taking over of fish habitat by aquatic plants and animals.  Plants like water hyacinth and aquarium plants like elodea can quickly over run and ruin some otherwise great fishing spots.  
Invasive animals like the dreded zebra and closely related quagga mussel can not only take out a fishery, but also cost tax payers billions of dollars. In fact, knowingly transporting a living zebra mussel across many state borders will get you a full out APB and police bulletin to stop you.
So, just what exactly is the big deal? Ever dump your old aquarium plants or unwanted aquarium pets out in the local pond or creek?
Well several people have done just that and now plants like brazilian waterweed (aka elodea) are blanketing spawning grounds like this example in California.  
The gravel is overgrown and no longer mobilizes in the river, forcing fish to spawn in the few remaining pockets of clean gravel...likely digging up eggs already in there.  This can make for some very unproductive spawning success.
Here is a pond example:
Or the crawdad that the innocent science teacher ordered online from a scientific supply gets released in good will after the semester ends quickly bullies and pushes out the native daddies and disrupts the whole invertebrate communities...

Here is an unique example of several species of cichlid fish released in a pond in Idaho that are now completely self-reproducing.  These guys are native to places in Africa and South America..kind of a funky novelty fishery, but environmentally it just ain't right.  Imagine if these guys were put into an isolated pupfish pond floods and these guys get in to larger river systems such as the Snake River...that flows in the greater Columbia River basin!

The risks are very real and very significant...let's all be extra cautious for our aquatic resources!

(photos courtesy of BLM Fisheries Idaho)



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