WATSONVILLE >> Biologists netted dozens of fat carp during an electrofishing expedition Thursday at Pinto Lake. The Watsonville project aims to reduce the population of non-native bottom-feeders that contribute to a toxic algae problem at the rural Pajaro Valley lake.
“They’re like feral pigs with fins,” said city water quality specialist Robert Ketley. “They’re that destructive.”…
Toxic algae blooms are a long-standing problem at Pinto Lake, which is surrounded by city and Santa Cruz County parks, as well as farmland and residential neighborhoods.
The algae, known as cyanobacteria, produces microcystin, a toxin that can cause rashes, nausea, diarrhea, and liver and kidney damage, and has been tied to livestock, pet and sea otter fatalities.
It’s fed by nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients found in lake sediments. The carp disturb the sediments and release the nutrients into the water while feeding.
Last year, during a city-sponsored fishing contest called Carpageddon, about 1,000 carp were removed from the lake. Ketley says thousands more remain.
Thursday, the San Jose State biologists hauled out 60 more — the largest nearly 3 feet long — using the electrofishing technique, which involves creating an electric field to paralyze the fish. The carp were then placed in barrels of an ethanol solution to quickly kill them.
“This is a project that’s really going to help,” said Jackie McCloud, city environmental projects specialist.
McCloud applied for the $12,000 grant from the Coastal Conservancy that’s paying for the work. Thursday, she helped net the paralyzed carp, zapped in the shallows along the lake’s shore. She said other fish — bass and crappies — swam away unharmed as soon as the field dissipated.
Her goal was 100-150 carp for the day, but one of the two fishing boats ran into mechanical problems. The grant will pay for three more attempts.
Volunteer Lauren Kitayama and city lab technician Tram Nguyen measured and weighed each fish and threw their bodies into a dumpster for transport to the landfill. The carp can’t be consumed as they are contaminated with DDT, a pesticide banned in 1972 but which lingers in the tissue of the fish.
Kitayama, hanging a heavy fish on the scale, is a recent graduate of UC San Diego, where she studied marine biology. She said she was happy to help eliminate a threat to sea otters, but acknowledged handling the slimy carp was a dirty job.
“It’s not the kind of work you want to do before you go out on a date,” she said.
Photo caption: Jackie McCloud, Watsonville environmental project specialist, looks on as volunteer Lauren Kitayama weighs one of the dozens of carp pulled from Pinto Lake on Thursday. (Donna Jones — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
By Donna Jones, Santa Cruz Sentinel
View original article at: Watsonville zaps carp from Pinto Lake