Skip Navigation

Species Search:
Ask an Expertthreatened and/or endangered

New Carp invasion

Ken, is it true that there is a new type of "Flying Carp" threatening the Great Lakes? I know that there has been a confirmed sighting of the infamous "Snake Head" fish in Wisconsin, but I just recently have found out about the "Flying Carp" Can you fill all of us in here in the Upper Midwest on what this fish is, and why is it so deadly to the fresh waters around our area. thanks for your time.

Wildlife Expert - Ken Burton

The so-called "flying carp" is the Bighead Carp, which gets its nickname from its habit of leaping out of the water when disturbed by boat motors. It was introduced into Arkansas catfish farms from China in 1973 to improve water quality and control plankton. During the floods of the 1990s many escaped into the Mississippi River system and spread northward. So far it has been kept largely out of the Great Lakes by an underwater electrical barrier in the canal connecting the Illinois River to Lake Michigan. However, the carp is considered a delicacy by Asians and is available for sale in live fish markets in Chicago and Toronto. An Asian custom when buying fish is to buy two and set one free. The few Bighead Carp found so far in the Great Lakes are believed to have arrived in this fashion.

This species is a voracious eater and grows and reproduces rapidly. It consumes just about everything at the bottom of the food chain and leaves nothing for native fish. This threatens the Great Lakes' fishing industry, worth nearly $5,000,000,000 annually.

Additional information on the web:
New Search