What’s Crawling Around Our Lake?

Several round goby fish that have invaded the Great Lakes.


Several round goby fish that have invaded the Great Lakes.

Helena Fahey, Journalist

Invasive species in Lake Erie has been an ongoing issue ever since the 1800’s.

Invasive species had started to become more prevalent in 1825, when the Erie Canal was constructed, making way for outsider ships to sail in its waters. This canal was constructed to connect Lake Erie to the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Ontario, as well as the other Great Lakes. While there are many ways invasive species could enter the waters, most common way is by ballast water.

    Ballast water is water that is carried in ballast tanks on ships in order to improve balance and stability on ships. Ships would come into Lake Erie and dump their ballast water into the lake, dumping many different types of creatures into the waters as well. It is believed that 30% of all invasive species in the Great Lakes, comes from ballast water.

    Some of the highly troublesome species that have found their way into our lake, are  zebra mussels, round goby, and eurasian watermilfoil. Another invasive species that was intentionally introduced to the lake was the common carp, however they do not have as bad of an impact as some other invasive species.

  Species like round goby eurasian watermilfoil are dangers for the very fragile environment our lake has. The goby fish are small but aggressive and will eat the eggs of other bigger fish. This could be damaging by decreasing the population size from eating the eggs.  The eurasian watermilfoil is a dangerous plant because of how rapidly it spreads. It will root itself and block out sunlight for native plants, killing them. This affects the habitats for all the creatures like birds and fish that depend on these native plants for survival.

    The question though is how to fight back against all these invasive species? Some actions to help can be as simple as emptying your bait bucket on land, never dumping out aquarium fish into the lake, washing and drying your boating equipment, or just removing any plants or mussels that could have attached to your boat before traveling. Any sort of help you can do matters and could help the entire environment.

    Sadly, it seems that most times when an invasive species is introduced, it will not be going away any time soon. However, not all invasive species are bad and most can be okay in an environment if controlled and kept from running rampant. There’s no exact formula to how an environment survives. An environment can most often thrive with any different types species as long as it is all still balanced. Introducing a new species throws the balance off and could cause a disaster, so it’s only right for you to do your part and make sure you’re not bringing any invasive species into our lake.