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The Invasion of the Great Lakes

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.SmjvPLB8.dpuf
tor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.SmjvPLB8.dpuf

Eco Youth Reporters Tyreshia Black, Antonio Reed, Jasmine Hunt at the reflecting pool at the University of Notre Dame. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

By pulling out a single strand of hair, your DNA instantly becomes environmental DNA or eDNA and this concept may help us save the Great Lakes from the potential devastation of the Asian carp. I didn’t understand this until I met Chris Jerde at the University of Notre Dame on a trip with my journalism classmates.

Jerde’s current job is to extract eDNA from water samples to search for a trace of Asian carp but this process can be used for other things to in the near future. He demonstrated by filtering water through special filters that captured algae and other microorganisms, allowing the eDNA to collect in sterile containers for testing.

“The process we use now will help us find the location of the carp, and in the future this process will help us figure out multiple species of fish,” Jerde said. “How many there are, and where they’re located, which is way better than counting them.”

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Asian Carp is a Man-Made Issue

by Jasmine Hunt 

Notre Dame’s environmental scientist Chris Jerde discusses invasive species with the Eco Youth Reporters. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Asian carp was seen as a quick and easy solution to help clean up some fish farm ponds near the Mississippi River. But as they have made their way toward the Great Lakes, they created a whole different issue. The Asian carp has a giant appetite: It eats everything, which means that it changed the food chain and natural rhythm of the rivers and lakes.

Asian carp has been around for awhile. With large mouths and the ability to filter feed, the carp were originally brought from China to clean up the lakes that serve as fish farms in Arkansas. The Arkansas floods in the 1970s caused the fish farms to break open and the Asian carp got into the Mississippi River. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1970 and people were focused on improving the water quality. So people knew Asian carp could be a problem. Asian Carp are found all over the world and there are many in Canada’s water sheds. 

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Chasing the “Blue Whale of Freshwater”

by Alicia Jacobs 

The Eco Youth Reporters pose during their tour of Notre Dame. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

“The blue whale of freshwater” – that’s how Chris Jerde, research assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame, describes Asian carp. Among the 185 invasive species in the Great Lakes, Asian carp has been the biggest problem. The various species of Asian carp open their mouths and eat “anything” in their path, as Jerde said, growing up to 100 pounds and leaving everything else behind to starve or just barely survive.

But no one can seem to find Asian carp.

That’s where Jerde’s eDNA test comes in. As Jerde showed us atthe Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility on a bright, hot, empty yet peaceful spot at St. Patrick’s Park, the eDNA test begins by filtering water through something that looks like a coffee filter. It sorts out the rocks and other things in the water, giving him a pure sample of organic particles. The eDNA test looks for DNA from fish and other organisms that he can trace. You can trace the DNA if an Asian carp has been in the water, even if you can’t physically find the fish.

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Shedd Aquarium Showcases Invasive Species

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

An Asian Carp. Photo by Tyreshia Black.

I got a chance to visit the legendary world of wonders at the Shedd Aquarium recently. The aquarium holds multiple exhibits of all types of fascinating animals. When my colleagues, journalism teacher and I arrived at the aquarium, we were introduced to Melissa Kruth, the public relations manager and Jillian Braun, a new intern. The two polite employees walked us through the huge crowds of busy people trying to view the beautiful creatures in each exhibit.

Braun and Kruth directed us to Kurt Hettiger, the senior aquarist at the Shedd Aquarium. He has worked there for approximately 19 years, two years as an intern and 17 years as a full-time employee. Hettiger has been working with mainly invasive species and endangered native animals including fish. Invasive species have been invading and intruding into large open areas of Lake Michigan. The most recent invasive fish categorized as an invasive species is the big head carp, which is a kind of Asian carp.

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