The giant alligator gar once populated inland waters from the Gulf of Mexico to Illinois. After disappearing half a century ago, it is likely to have a comeback as wildlife experts want to use it to fight the Asian silver carp invasion.
In 1973 some catfish farmers from Arkansas decided it was a good idea to import live silver carp from China to “clean” their catfish ponds. Soon after, the mighty Mississippi flooded her banks, washing silver carp into the river. Turns out these carp liked it here in America, and now dominate the same waters once the home of alligator gar.
Efforts are underway to reintroduce the alligator gar, a fish with rows of razor teeth, that can grow to 9 feet and 300 pounds, to its former range. “What else is going to be able to eat those monster carp?” said Allyse Ferrara, an alligator gar expert at Nicholls State University in Louisiana. “We haven’t found any other way to control them.” But as the law of unintended consequences has taught us, it is not always smart to fool with mother nature.
Ledbetter, Kentucky, lies on the Tennessee River where Ronny Hopkins, his son and his grandson now fish Asian silver carp. They will catch 5000 pounds while the morning is still young. The carp are surprisingly delicious, as chefs around the country are discovering. And what better way to attack an invasive species?
China’s expansive assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea suffered a major blow when an international tribunal ruled that its claims have no legal or historical basis. Beijing fiercely rejected the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which sided unequivocally with the Philippines. This is a victory for fishermen who have been affected by China’s intensive program of island-building there to extend its de facto control. There is hope that this decision will bring China into deeper talks around fisheries management to the betterment of all of the world’s major fishing nations.
Deep under the sea, near California’s Channel Islands marine scientists noticed a glowing purple orb hiding in the shadows. They zoomed in on the creature with an underwater robot camera — and were completely mystified. “I’m stumped,” one scientist said. “I have no idea. I couldn’t even hazard a guess.” In total, humans have explored less than 5 percent of the ocean floor. Who knows what other glowing wonders are out there?
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team