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Species Invade Shedd Aquarium

By Matt Wood in Miscellaneous on Jan 6, 2006 5:47PM

Shedd Aquarium opened a new exhibit Thursday that features invasive species threatening the Great Lakes. These animals, like Asian carp, gobies, and zebra mussels, and plants like the hydrilla are non-native species that arrive where they don't belong, usually because of human carelessness. While they aren't necessarily dangerous in their native environments, they wreck the party here where they lack their natural predators and compete with indigenous species.

The zebra mussel is such a nuisance that the aquarium decided to use models instead of live specimens, for fear they would clog up the exhibit's pipes. The carp are kept in a separate tank too. They're known for jumping into the air, often landing in boats and waving their fins like they just don't care. 2006_01_carp.jpgThey're currently kept out of the Great Lakes by an electric barrier across the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, one of the famous canals that helped reverse the Chicago River.

Shedd Aquarium's animals also announced their own invasive species exhibit, called "People: Those Greedy Bastards". The exhibit is based in the aquarium's hallways, cafeteria, and auditoriums, where animals can observe humans in their most annoying behaviors. "This is a great exhibit," said Tique, one of the aquarium's dolphins, through a series of clicks and whistles. "It's really great to see the juvenile humans push and shove to get a better view through the windows. And when they pound on the glass, well that's just priceless." Technically the human exhibit extends outside the aquarium, but Tique says it's easier to draw people into the aquarium for observation. "We jump out of the water and do flips and stuff and they just come running," she clicked. "So predictable."