Published: February 20, 2008
The New York Times
LATE last year, a flotilla of fluorescent jellyfish covering 10 square miles of ocean was borne by the tide into a small bay on the Irish Sea. These mauve stingers, venomous glow-in-the-dark plankton native to the Mediterranean, slipped through the mesh of aquaculture nets, stinging the 120,000 fish in Northern Ireland’s only salmon farm to death.
Closer to home, the Asian carp, which has been working its way north from the Mississippi Delta since the 1990s, is now on the verge of reaching the Great Lakes. This voracious invader, which weighs up to 100 pounds and eats half its body weight in food in a day, has gained notoriety for vaulting over boats and breaking the arms and noses of recreational anglers. Having outcompeted all native species, it now represents 95 percent of the biomass of fish in the Illinois River and has been sighted within 25 miles of Lake Michigan. The only thing preventing this cold-water-loving species from infesting the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world, is an electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.