Underwater cannon may help protect Great Lakes

December 30, 2011 - 3:45 PM
Gunning for Gobies

This October 2009 photo provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources shows an invasive round goby swimming along a rocky reef in Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay near Elk Rapids, Mich. Scientists plan to experiment next fall with a seismic underwater gun to chase gobies away from Great Lakes reefs, where they gobble eggs laid by native species such as trout and whitefish. (AP Photo/Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Randy Claramunt)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Scientists want to know if an underwater cannon can protect valuable Great Lakes fish from a greedy predator.

The round goby (GOH'-bee) is an exotic species that hangs around spawning beds, gobbling up eggs of native varieties such as lake trout and whitefish that are important to the fishing industry.

Biologists plan to use a seismic gun to chase gobies from several Lake Michigan reefs that are popular spawning areas. The experiment is to begin next fall.

Researchers hope the shell-shocked gobies will stay away long enough for native fish eggs to hatch and escape.

It's part of the increasingly sophisticated war against invasive animals and plants that cost the nation's economy billions of dollars each year. The Great Lakes in particular are besieged by at least 185 aquatic invaders.