The spiny water flea is poised to invade Lake Champlain. Recently found in a feeder canal, the invasive species has proven impossible to eradicate and causes a reduction in fisheries.
The spiny water flea is native to the fresh waters of Northern Europe and Asia. It likely came to the Great Lakes in the 1980s in ship ballast. In 2008, they were first found in U.S. waters outside the Great Lakes. Since then, they have been moving down the Hudson River.
The spiny water flea is a tiny crustacean about a half inch long at the largest. It has barbs which prevent other fish from feeding on it. It eats animals smaller than itself, putting it in direct competition for food with fish like herring and perch. Reducing the numbers of herring reduces the numbers of their predators, like salmon and trout.
WPTZ put together this video talking about the difficulties facing Lake Champlain once the spiny water flea gets there.
Lake Champlain photo via Shutterstock