Underwater intruder attacks Tennessee's waterways - WSMV Channel 4

Underwater intruder attacks Tennessee's waterways

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ASHLAND CITY, TN (WSMV) -

There's an underwater creature taking over Tennessee's waterways.

It's threatening boaters, swimmers and entire ecosystems, and the concern has become so great, state biologists are now taking action to get rid of them.

Asian carp have plundered and pillaged their way from China to the Midstate.

They were originally dumped into the Mississippi to feed on plankton, but after a few major floods, they wound up in Tennessee.

"They open up the locks to allow a boat to go in and the fish get in and go from there. They're competing with our native species of fish for food," said Bobby Wilson, the chief of fisheries at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

They can weigh up to 60 pounds and can jump up to eight feet high, posing a big threat to boaters, skiers and just about anyone in the water.

"If it hits you in the face while you're doing 40 mph, it can really hurt," said Wilson. 

Biologists across the country are spending millions of dollars on research to stop the Asian carp invasion, or to at least contain it.

The fish are hard to catch, they reproduce like crazy and in the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, it may already be too late.

"Right now there's no magic pill. Like say you could poison the water to kill Asian carp, that would be ideal, but there's nothing like that," said Wilson. 

Until someone can come up with some sort of solution, the focus will be on prevention and containment. Biologists ask that if you catch these fish, do not release them. 

Researchers are working on a way to genetically manipulate male carp to where they would only have male babies.

The hope is that they would not be able to reproduce and would eventually die out, though biologists here say that is years down the road.

Others are working on developing a market for the fish to possibly control them better that way. 

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