Cootes Paradise is carp-free for the first time in years, which means plants in the 250-hectare marsh will again have a chance to grow undisturbed.
A decade-long effort to get rid of the destructive alien species ended successfully when a strong west wind and the low level of Lake Ontario combined to push all the water in Cootes -- and all the fish -- through the Desjardins Canal into the main body of Hamilton Harbour last week. Royal Botanical Gardens staff lifted a grate in the carp-exclusion fishway to let them out. With the grate back in place, the destructive carp can't return.
Tys Theysmeyer, aquatic biologist for the RBG and leader of Project Paradise that aims at restoring a healthy ecosystem in the shallow Cootes wetland, is as excited as a kid opening presents on Christmas morning.
"It's been a tremendous struggle to get them out of there. Next spring the marsh will be fantastically different," he said this week. "I want to enjoy winter, but I'm so looking forward, I can't wait for spring. Fragile aquatic plants will finally get a shot."
Most carp and other fish that spawn in Cootes migrate to the deeper harbour in winter, but some have remained behind since the fishway went into operation in 1997. A population once as high as 70,000 adults was reduced about 1,000 in recent years, but high water levels let them overwinter and reproduce in the marsh -- until now. Source...