Monday, May 27, 2019

Will Asian Carp assault Chicago, Lake Michigan similar to the way Godzilla terrorized Tokyo in the movies?

It has long been the fear of environmentalists that Asian Carp, a breed of fish considered particularly devastating to our ecology, is someday going to manage to work its way into Lake Michigan and the surrounding of the Great Lakes.
Have Asian Carp arrived at Lake Calumet? Photos by Gregory Tejeda
So it is with much trepidation that there is now evidence indicating that the Carp have made it past the electronic barricades further south near Romeoville (which the Army Corps of Engineers installed thinking that was the absolute solution to keep the Carp out of Chicago) and are now in existence in Lake Calumet.

FROM WHICH, IF they really have made it that far along the path, only now have to swim upstream through the Calumet River for about seven miles through Chicago’s South Side and will then be in Lake Michigan proper.

The Asian Carp, who initially were released accidentally into the Mississippi River somewhere down near New Orleans have managed to make it up across the nation, and across our state through the Illinois River and could now be about to take over the lake that is pride and joy to our Chicago.

Which, of course, will have many people eager to blame Chicago for letting the Asian Carp loose – even though one could claim it was the ineptitude of those who initially let the Carp loose down south who are truly to blame.
From Lake Calumet mouth to Calumet River … 

But the reality is that there’s nothing that can be done to undo the damage in the mighty Mississippi. But we can still hope that our officials can act in ways to bar them from Lake Michigan.

SO WHAT’S THE big deal about the Asian Carp? The fact is that the Asian Carp feed on anything and everything in their paths.

In doing so, they’ll devastate the ecosystems of whatever water supply they manage to get to. In a sense, everything that is alive and thriving now in Lake Michigan could wind up becoming barren, if the Carp make it that far.

And the reality is, we may well find there’s nothing we really can do to stop the Asian Carp from making the final stretch of their journey to Lake Michigan and all the other Great Lakes.
and up the river, past the Chicago Skyway bridge
If they’ve managed to work their way north from New Orleans to Chicago this far, what’s to make us think there’s anything that can be placed in their way during the final seven-mile stretch of the Calumet River?

NOW IT SHOULD be noted that the Asian Carp proper have not been found in Lake Calumet itself. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said last week that traces of DNA from Asian Carp have been found in the lake’s water.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the DNA could consist of evidence of skin cells, secretions and feces (just think, fish poop), and that those substances could well have been in the bilge water of the ships that pass through the area – if not the Asian Carp themselves.
Too bad the Asian Carp can't read signs!

It could be just genetic junk, and not the fish themselves that have made the lengthy journey from down south. Which means that rather than blaming Chicago for letting the Carp into the Great Lakes, we ought to be thinking in terms of whether or not Chicago will be “heroic” enough to prevent the trip from being completed.

I suppose we’re now on the lookout for the Asian Carp, which have been sited by the T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam – located just south of the lake – to see if they’ve made it a few miles farther north to the lake proper, then well on their way to the “big” lake itself.

IT WILL BE intriguing to see what kind of last-ditch measures our federal and state officials (Gov. J.B. Pritzker has written to the Army Corps of Engineers offering whatever assistance the state can provide) can concoct to try to keep the Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes.

Will we see some new sort of technology devised to try to barricade off Lake Michigan? Or are we destined to see the same kind of electronic barricades erected at the mouth of the Calumet River headed into the lake as one last-ditch attempt to kill off any sort of creatures?
Will the Asian Carp be reminiscent of Godzilla films?
Is it inevitable that Lake Michigan (and the other Great Lakes) as we now know them are doomed? Or can they be saved?

It makes me wonder if we’re destined for some sort of story in our future resembling the old Godzilla movies – with the Asian Carp being a threat to our ecological well-being and threatening Chicago similar to the way the cinematic dragon-like creature used to terrorize Tokyo!


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