Another invasive species in Great Lakes waters
By Mike Zielinski
Published January 19, 2007
A species of shrimp previously found only in the seas of Eastern Europe has now been discovered in the Muskegon Channel of Lake Michigan.
The mysid, Hemimysis anomala, was found in the channel in November. It is the most recent addition to a list of Great Lakes invader species that now numbers 183.
Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Research Lab, who found swarms of bloody red mysid, said the half-inch shrimp were likely brought into the Great Lakes in the ballast water of an oceangoing freighter.
"It came from the Ponto-Caspian region, the same area that gave us zebra mussels, quagga mussels and the goby," said Steve Pothoven, an NOAA fisheries biologist.
Eight years ago, two Canadian scientists predicted the bright orange Hemimysis anomala was a likely candidate to follow other Caspian Sea region invaders such as the zebra mussel into the Great Lakes if more wasn't done to stop the discharge of contaminated ballast water from oceangoing freighters traveling up the St. Lawrence Seaway.
One of those scientists, Anthony Ricciardi of McGill University in Montreal, describes it as another sign of an "ecological takeover" of the Great Lakes by species native to the Black and Caspian Sea regions. The dominant mollusk in most parts of the Great Lakes is now the zebra or quagga mussel while the dominant zooplankton is the fishhook water flea.
Protection of Great Lakes waters should have been a major subject in 1957 when the St. Lawrence Seaway was completed and opened up shipping from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Those old enough should remember how the immediate impact was a massive invasion of sea lampreys that have mostly eradicated the native lake trout species in the Great Lakes.
We have been invaded by exotic species at about a rate of four a year for the last 30 years. The old saw "It doesn't do much good to close the barn once the horse is out" is pretty applicable here.
Federal agencies should have stopped the introduction of the mysid, just as they should have stopped every other nonnative species brought in through ballast waters.