Updated June 2, 2021

Whooshh Innovations To Evaluate Ways To Remove Asian Carp From Illinois River

UPDATE - June 10, 2021

Whooshh Innovations has successfully imaged large invasive Carp through their FishL Recognition™ Scanner on the Illinois River!  During testing, several Grass Carp have been imaged, and also a Silver Carp.   

UPDATE - June 2, 2021

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. 

LEWISTOWN, Ill. – Asian Carp continue to spread rapidly throughout the Midwest, including the Illinois River. 

The non-indigenous feeders can quickly decimate aquatic ecosystems by eating some of the same food that sustains native fish populations.

Whooshh Innovations is partnering with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy in Illinois, and the Illinois Natural History Survey to evaluate the potential use of a system that will attract and help remove Asian Carp from the Illinois River. 

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

The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve has been identified as the test site. 

It has been observed that the pumped water flow and nutrient-rich water that is passed from the Emiquon Preserve back into the Illinois River has attracted Asian carp to the location. 

Utilizing a portion of the Emiquon outflow as the water source  for the false weir and the steeppass will serve as the primary attractant to the steeppass.

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

From there the fish will pass 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.

Asian carp are composed of four invasive carp species: Bighead carp, silver, carp, grass carp, and black carp. 

Bighead and silver carp are filter feeders, but black carp are molluscivores (eating primarily mussels and snails), and grass carp are herbivores. 

The carp have successfully adapted to reproduce to to make up as much as 80% of the biomass in many Midwest US rivers.

Efforts have been underway for many years to control the reach of Asian carp in waterways in which they have invaded.

This is the first step in evaluating the effectiveness of volitional entry by carp into the front end of a Whooshh selective removal system.

If this first step is successful, the Whooshh Innovations FishL™ Recognition system which is designed to rapidly image fish volitionally passing through will be optimized to recognize these species. A final step will be to add the WhooshhGatekeeper™ for real time sorting and removal of unwanted species, while native species are safely returned to the river without human intervention.

This project is the first step to evaluating the effectiveness of the Whooshh systems at removing Asian carp from Midwest waterways. 

Another potential benefit is a method of moving good fish, and lastly, the work may help better understand fish movements which could help with additional management challenges.