My first encounter with Bighead carp

Baby Bighead carp
Duane Chapman, a biologist at the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center holds 5 week-old Bighead carp in the wet lab on July 26, 2010 in Columbia, Mo. | Canon 5D Mark II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 70mm | Exposed 1/125 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 800 (+1/3 EV)

Yesterday I had an opportunity to sit down with Duane Chapman, a research fish biologist with the United States Geological Survey’s Columbia Environmental Research Center.  Chapman took an interest in Asian carp several years ago and has become an expert on their behavior and has been studying some of the environmental requirements for their survival, such as the velocity of the flow of a river needed for their eggs to successful.

After a very informative interview, he introduced me to my first Asian carp¹.  Of course, this first Asian carp was only about five weeks old and extremely tiny…cute, really.  The USGS raises them for study in various models of how Asian carp respond to various environments to better understand how they might behave in the wild.  I only wish that I had known I would have this opportunity because my macro lens was at home (the above photo is heavily cropped).

One of the things I’ve been pondering about my project is when I’m actually going to have an opportunity to eat Asian carp.  The governor of Illinois recently announced that he wants to expand commercial fishing of Asian carp in an attempt to knock down their population.  I found out in preparing for the interview that one of Chapman’s hobbies is cooking, and that he has applied that to his research subject in the form of Asian carp recipes.  There’s also a video on YouTube of him demonstrating how to fillet them to avoid the bones:

¹ Well, the first Asian carp that I knew was an invasive Asian carp.  I remember seeing a lot of live fish for sale in the aquariums of Chicago’s Chinatown when I lived there in 2006, and it’s very likely a Bighead or Silver carp was staring right at me and I didn’t even know it.

2 thoughts

  1. I actually really like the picture you have. A macro lens may have made it difficult to judge the actual size of those fish.

    Do you know what they’re supposed to taste like?

    1. Scott,
      Imagine the same photo, just full frame as opposed to cropped down to 4 or 5 megapixels 🙂 Minimum focusing distance was working against me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *