US Geological Survey scientists collected samples of Asian carp eggs, including embryos ready to hatch from the Upper Mississippi River, 250 river miles upstream from previously known reproductive areas.
The discovery means Asian carp, which is an invasive species, spawned much farther north in the Mississippi than previously recorded, said Leon Carl USGS Midwest Regional Director. While the presence of eggs in the samples indicates that spawning occurred, the USGS does not know if the eggs hatched and survived.
Asian carp poses substantial environmental risk and economic impacts to the Upper Mississippi River if they become established, according to the USGS.
The research project that collected these eggs is being coordinated by the USGS in collaboration with Western Illinois University. Scientists will collect additional samples from the Mississippi River in 2014.
The scientists found the Asian carp eggs and late-stage embryos while processing samples that had been collected in mid-May and mid-June 2013. The samples were taken as part of a larger research project designed to identify Asian carp spawning habitats, according to the USGS.
The scientists examined other samples taken from the Mississippi River and found Asian carp eggs at seven locations between Pool 19 near Keokuk, Iowa, and Pool 9 of the main channel of the Upper Mississippi River near Lynxville, Wisconsin. Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin border the navigation pools where these samples were collected.
The eggs and late-stage embryos were identified as bigheaded carps—either bighead carp or silver carps. It’s also possible that some eggs could be from grass carp, although no eggs were visually identified as such. Genetic analysis to definitively determine the species of Asian carp were inconclusive.
The USGS is taking additional steps to identify the eggs. Those results are expected in one to two weeks.
Concerns over the introduction of invasive species to waterways is fueling a boom in ballast water treatment systems. An analysis by Frost & Sullivan projects revenues for the global ballast water treatment system market will skyrocket from $466.6 million in 2013 to $3.14 billion by 2023 at a compound annual growth rate of 21 percent, as new regulations drive sales of the technology.
Photo by USGS