Spiny water fleas take over Canadian waterways

Fishermen and environmentalists are worried about a tiny species that has occupied Lake Champlain.

The tiny species is native to Asia and eats other plankton in the water

Spiny water fleas are predatory and eat other plankton in the water, says McGill biologist Brian Leung. (Jeff Gunderson/Submitted by Quebec Wildlife Ministry)

Quebec's wildlife ministry issued a warning to fishermen Wednesday urging them to clean their boats.

The message comes as officials and environmentalists are worried about a tiny flea that has occupied the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain.

Brian Leung, an associate professor at McGill University and a biologist who specializes in invasive species, said the situation is bad news for recreational fishermen and even worse news for the environment.

Leung said the spiny water fleas have the capability of destroying the province's biodiversity, in part because they are predatory and eat other plankton. He also said other reasons could include the competitiveness between species and the unknown relationships between the species and the water fleas.

According to Leung, the fleas were most likely transported to the U.S. and Canada via recreational vehicles.

When CBC Radio One Homerun host Sue Smith asked Leung how people could help in preventing the spread of the spiny water flea, Leung said, "By cleaning your boats."