​August 20, 2020

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

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.