Saskatoon

Carp, eh? Diem! Keep an eye out for this invasive species of Prussian fish in Saskatoon

A researcher is searching the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon Wednesday for more signs of an invasive fish species that could threaten other fish in the river.

Researcher searching the South Saskatchewan River for signs of threatening fish species

A researcher is searching the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon Wednesday for more signs of an invasive fish species that could threaten other fish in the river. (George Chernilevsky)

A researcher is searching the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon Wednesday for more signs of an invasive fish species that could threaten other fish in the river.

Shayna Hamilton, a recent graduate of the University of Regina, set up small nets near the shore at Meewasin Park Tuesday evening.

She's looking for Prussian carp, a relatively small fish (about 30 to 60 centimetres long) that nevertheless packs quite a punch.

In some European waters, Prussian carp have overtaken native fish species to become 90 per cent of the fish population, according to Renny Grilz, a resource management officer with the Meewasin Valley Authority.

"This research project in Greece looked at it. One fish was detected and eight years later, it was 90 per cent of the population of fish species. So it could be quite exponential growth," said Grilz.

Prussian carp were first discovered in Saskatchewan in Lake Diefenbaker. Last year, an angler caught one by the weir in Saskatoon.

Hamilton is here to see if the Prussians have moved into the home territory of jackfish, walleye and other fish found in the South Saskatchewan River.

Recent University of Regina graduate Shayna Hamilton set up nets along the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon Wednesday to look for signs of the carp. (University of Regina)

Prussian carp are biologically prone to dominate, spawning three times a year, compared to once a year for most fish, according to Grilz.

"What they do is they take the sperm of other fish species. They use that to fertilize their eggs. They don't use the genetics from those other fish species; they use their own. So they actually clone themselves."

So how did these carp even get to Saskatchewan?

"There's some speculation that they might have been accidentally released as a pet as goldfish," Grilz said.

"They look very typical to a goldfish. And there's been a lot of intentional introductions of goldfish in stock stormwater ponds in Alberta and in Saskatoon. And so they think that just came from someone's pet."

Early results

Most of the net samples had been taken as of mid-Wednesday afternoon.

No carp were found, though that doesn't mean they're not there, said Grilz.

One final sample result will be known Thursday. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa, originally from Cornwall, Ont.

Story tips? Email me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca or DM me @gqinott on Twitter.

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