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From River Monster to Hero: Officials Revive Beastly Alligator Gar to Save Billion Dollar Fishing Industry Against Asian Carp

Aug 05, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

The fearsome alligator gar, a reviled fish that was once driven to extinction, will be the next hero of the marine and fishing industry.

Carp, the Invasive Water Pest

According to Tech Times, the Asian Carp has already entered the Mississippi River and they have been breeding in plague proportions. Biologists fear that they will enter the Great Lakes and damage the ecosystem there beyond repair.

Carps destroy freshwater vegetation by sucking silt and debris. They also feed on some native fishes that are deemed harmful to humans and other water organisms.

To avoid the carp proliferation, researchers are looking at the revival of the once hated alligator gar population. Just this July, Illinois lawmakers passed a resolution promising to protect the existing gar species in their state, in line with the plan to reintroduce them to the waters to battle the carp, the Associated Press reported.

Allyse Ferrara, who studies alligator gar at Nicholls State University in Louisiana, told the outlet that they have not found any other way to control it.

"What else is going to be able to eat those monster carp?" she said. "We haven't found any other way to control them."

Alligator Gar, the Hero Predator

The river monster, which is characterized by it's alligator-like head and needle sharp teeth, will swim the waters once more to put an end to the carp plague that has been debilitating the fishing industry and destroying the water ecosystem.

National Geographic describes the alligator gar as a menacing creature that can grow up to 10 feet and weigh up to 300 pounds. These sharp-scaled freshwater monsters are known to feed on fishes, but just like crocodiles, they too feed on everything that they see, even small turtles.

Researchers suggest that alligator gars are seen as a possible option because they are not harmful to humans. Despite their size and terrifying features, there are no recorded alligator gar attacks to humans. The only con is that their eggs are poisonous when accidentally ingested by humans.

Also, alligator gars have shown a taste for Asian carp.

The population decline of alligator gar can be attributed to altered habitat and sport fishing throughout the 1900s, when they were often blown up with dynamite. Records from Florida Museum say the alligator gar is now rare, endangered.

Other Efforts to Control the Carp Plague

Over the years, there have been efforts to resolve the carp plague such as when President Obama allotted $300 million to restore the damage brought by the carp to the Great Lakes as well as to catch them.

In addition, Christian Science Monitor reported that just this May, a 7.5-foot earthen wall has been built in Indiana to stop the carps from traversing their watershed.

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