the problem.

Non-indigenous fish species impact eco-systems around the world. Asian carp in particular have spread rapidly throughout Midwestern rivers, threatening the habitats and sustainability of many native species residing there. 

Although not predators, their high reproductive rates and ravenous appetites shift the balance of available basic waterway food chain nutrients and river occupancy space, disrupting the sustainability of the natural ecosystem.

Asian carp are composed of four invasive carp species: bighead carp, silver carp, grass carp, and black carp.
These filter feeders have successfully adapted to reproduce in high numbers among many Midwest US rivers, including the Illinois River. Carp now make up to 80% of the biomass in Midwest rivers.

​While efforts have been underway for many years to control the reach of Asian carp in the waterways they have invaded, their steadily increasing numbers suggest that new methods are needed in order to control their growing populations.

the solution.

Currently, large sections of waterways are fished via large nets to harvest out and remove the Asian carp. The consequence of this method is that native species are unintentionally harvested along with the carp, a result known as the bycatch. 

​The Whooshh FishL RecognitionTM system is designed to rapidly image fish volitionally passing through, enabling the GatekeeperTM to perform real time sorting. This solution reduces the bycatch significantly, enabling Asian Carp removal while returning native species to the river, allowing them to thrive.

Whooshh Innovations partnered with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the Nature Conservancy in Illinois to evaluate the potential use of an Alaskan steeppass as an entry to the Fish Recognition System and future Gatekeeper invasive species removal.

Using a 30-foot Alaskan steeppass, combined with a false weir and flowbox, a study was conducted to determine if invasive carp could be attracted into the Whooshh system at the outflow from the Emiquon Preserve.

Pumped water flow and nutrient-rich water, passed from the Emiquon Preserve back into the Illinois River, attracted Asian carp to the location. 
A portion of the Emiquon outflow was used as the water source for the false weir and the steeppass, serving as the primary attractant to the steeppass.
Phase 1: Entry 

The premise is that the Asian Carp will volitionally enter the steeppass in search of the nutrient rich waters of the refuge.

In Phase 1, the fish swim through the flow box, and over the false weir where they will be directed to a containment area where they can be manually sorted/identified/enumerated.

​Phase II will incorporate the FishL Recognition System.


Last year we tested the steeppass at Emiquon, studying how fish entered the system. This year we are testing the next part of the system, our FishL Recognition scanner, which will be scanning images and taking data from the fish passing through.

​Since we began testing, nearly 2,000 fish have passed through, almost all native gizzard shad. When the waters warm this spring to 70°F on the Illinois River, the Carp will start to move from their winter homes, and we expect our collection of Carp images will finally begin.  

The conditions have been challenging with climate change intensifying the usual spring flooding, along with channelized streams, wetland loss, and storm water runoff. During flooding the steeppass often becomes submerged, causing the attraction flow to be less appealing to fish. 

Assuming the fish show up this spring and summer at the trial site, we expect to have sufficient numbers of Carp images, that we can then run artificial intelligence on our captured images, such that we will be able to update our FishL Recognitions systems to accurately and autonomously sort native fish from the dominant invasive Carp, all in real time.