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U of M researchers install underwater speaker system to fight invasive carp

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Researchers at the University of Minnesota are taking a unique approach to stop the spread of invasive carp in the Mississippi River.

Scientists from the university are using five underwater speakers at Lock and Dam Number 8 to produce a sound they say causes the invasive carp to swim away.

According to WXOW, the sound will play every time the lock opens and will continue until it closes.

The experimental project is believed to be the largest underwater speaker system in the world and it has been up and running for about a week near Genoa, Wisconsin.

The sound it generates is said to be equal to about 20 outboard motors.

"It produces a sound that we know, from experiments in the lab and observations in the field, they hate," Dr. Peter Sorenson told the Pioneer Press. "This is why they jump."

The fear is the invasive carp could crowd out walleye, northern pike and bass in the headwaters of the Mississippi and around Minnesota – and the economic impact that could have on the state's fishing industry.

Earlier this month, the DNR announced the invasive carp have been found as far north as Cottage Grove.

Researchers are hoping to find a way to keep the populations of native fish, while chasing off the invasive carp.

Scientists say the native fish won't be affected by the system, but that's not to say there aren't concerns about what effects the system will have on native fish.

Mark Clements owns Captain Hooks Bait and Tackle in Genoa. Clements is concerned the sound could scare off the native fish.

"A lot of these small villages, the tourist industry, you know we rely on the fishermen coming up here because we are known to be such a great source here and if you eliminate some of that, it could be millions of dollars," Clements told WKBT.

But Sorenson says the invasive carp have more sensitive hearing than the native fish.

"Depending on what frequency range you look at can be upwards of 1,000 times more sensitive than the vast majority of fish in the river," said Dr. Peter Sorensen of the University of Minnesota.

The cost of the experimental project is around $75,000 for equipment and installation of the speakers. WKBT reports that it will be paid for through trust funds in Minnesota and private donations.

Researchers will test the system for 2 1/2 years.

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