New Research Sheds Light on Another Aspect of Unhealthy Lakes
Anyone who has been out on Crystal or Loon Lakes in the summer has undoubtedly seen one of these big uglies. This is a picture of a common carp – otherwise known as Enemy #2. (As we’ve previously discussed, Enemy #1 is the massive amount of phosphorous that is feeding into the lake from the watershed at large).
Find out more about phosphorous loads from the University of Minnesota by clicking here.
Enemy #2 is a concern for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is an invasive species that has taken up residence in our watershed. While people are well aware of Zebra Mussels and Asian Carp are the new potential threats to our eco-system, the common carp has been quietly ravaging Minnesota waters for the last century. It is an invasive species brought to the U.S. as a food staple in the late 1800s. Since that time, the fish has proliferated, and quietly destroyed ecosystems. But how?
Common carp are omnivorous, but en masse they strip a lake of its natural plant matter. Though we may not realize it, a weedy lake full of native plant species and fish habitat is a healthy lake. The plants can convert moderate levels of phosphorous and nitrogen and provide food to fish, amphibians, and birds that live in the wetlands around the lakes. The roots of these plants also help stabilize the lake floor, keeping the silt in place and providing natural aqua-filters that clarify the water. Carp devour these plants until there are none left. Then they churn up the silt and phosphorous in the lake bed. With no plants to consume the already high levels of phosphorous, the algae that we’ve all come to detest feeds on the phosphorous and blooms. This leaves the waters in our lakes anything but crystal clear.
See the video below for more information, and stay tuned for more news in CARP WARS!
(Jump ahead to minute 7 to step right into Carp Wars!)