Non-native Prussian carp are found in significant numbers in the Red Deer River and its tributaries. The Gull Lake Water Society hopes to crimp the carp’s spread. (Contributed photo).

Test aims to keep Prussian carp out of Gull Lake

Geotubes theoretically trap carp eggs, allowing water to be pumped into the lake

Currently, there is no evidence of Prussian carp in Gull Lake.

An experiment by the Gull Lake Water Society is looking to keep it that way — with the added benefit of being able to raise water levels in the lake.

Prussian carp are an invasive species that choke out water bodies to other species of fish.

Keith Nesbitt, director of the Gull Lake Water Society, said a recent donation of geotubes should allow them to stop carp from entering the lake.

“It is a fine membrane that when water pumps through it, it traps all of the carp eggs. That would prevent them from getting further into the lake,” he said.

If the experiment currently being conducted on the Blindman River succeeds, the water society will be able to begin to pump water to get lake levels back up.

“The way things are set up now, is that we can’t pump anything into the lake at all, either from the Blindman or any other river,” he said.

It is unclear how Prussian carp enter a watershed, but once they do, they are difficult to get rid of.

“In 2017, that was the first year they were found in the Red Deer River, where they then came into the Blindman and further on,” Nesbitt said.

Carp continuously breed and can be fertilized by other fish, meaning their numbers can explode rapidly.

The experiment being done on the Blindman River to prevent the spread of the species is a first of its kind, said Nesbitt.

“There have been other experiments using air and electricity down in areas like Flint, Mich.,” Nesbitt said.

“An engineering firm did a report for the Alberta government a few years ago, and that basically said there is nothing out there that would eliminate the problem.

“This is something new that we designed.”

Nesbitt hopes a successful experiment will mean approval from Alberta Environment to begin pumping water into Gull Lake. A successful test would also mean other groups taking care of lakes and rivers would be able to mimic the results.

“It is an ongoing experiment and I am not sure when we will be completely done with it. We are working with Alberta Environment on it,” he said.

The water society and the experiment are privately funded, and members donate their time to the care of the lake.

“Were cautiously optimistic that we will see some satisfactory results,” he said.

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