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Goby Gun! Scientists Creatively Combative In Invasive Species Fight

By JoshMogerman in News on Dec 31, 2011 9:15PM

Round goby [Wiki Commons]

The round goby. If it wasn’t for Asian carp and quagga mussels, this funny-faced fish would likely be the poster boy for aquatic invasive species. Since it was first spotted 1990, the little finned alien has proliferated amongst all the Great Lakes and is currently the most numerous fish in Lake Michigan. Anglers hate them for spoiling the Lake's best fishing spots, but they must be a favorite of engineers because the species has spawned some pretty crazy toys to keep those googley-eyes in check.

First, there was the famous electric barrier. You know, the one in the suburbs that the Army Corps of Engineers says is keeping Asian carp out of Lake Michigan… The first electric barrier was constructed not for carp, but for round gobies, in an attempt to keep the invasive fish from exiting Lake Michigan and heading down the Mississippi. Unfortunately, the Corps couldn’t turn on the juice quick enough to stop the jailbreak.

And now, scientists are proposing a doozy of a new anti-goby tool: and underwater cannon! What could go wrong? Actually, it is an interesting concept. One of the biggest impacts from the invasive fish, besides sending thousands of dead birds onto Michigan’s beaches, comes out of their penchant for devouring the eggs of native fish species. Biologists are considering using a “seismic gun” to scare gobies out of spawning grounds just long enough for fish eggs to hatch unharrassed. We aren’t sure how the aquatic artillery can be so choosy that it only targets the gobies---so fishermen are probably going to be irked by this too when they can't even catch gobies with a rod and reel...