Photo album/video: Carp, um, rescued from downtown Riverwalk

Stephanie Schmidt, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies & Biology at St. Olaf, alerted me to today’s late morning effort to remove the fish that got trapped in downtown’s Riverwalk during the flooding.

Many of the trapped fish are carp, which are non-native and generally nasty fish for our waters.  We’re unsure of what else has escaped to the calmer waters. It will be interesting to see. Anyway, if we end up moving fish, it might be a neat opportunity for you to get some more photos.  Some of these carp are monsters.

Stephanie was prepared to use a ‘barge shocker’ but nets were enough to do the job.

I’ll have a short video of the operation later today but in the meantime, see my album of 18 photos, the large slideshow, or this small slideshow.

Update 8 PM: a 45-second video of the operation:


  1. Kathie Galotti said:

    Where were the carp, um, moved to??

    September 27, 2010
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Kathie, the carp will be, um, serving out the rest of their days helping to diversify St. Olaf’s composting system.

    September 27, 2010
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve added a 45-second video of today’s Operation Carp Um Rescue. See the blog post above.

    September 27, 2010
  4. Kathie Galotti said:

    um, ewww

    September 27, 2010
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Another carp/fish rescue operation today!  Here’s the update from Stephanie Schmidt:

    It looks like we will be out on the riverwalk again this afternoon (after 2:30pm) taking care of the trapped fish on the west side of the river.  Any native fish, including smallmouth buffalo and bigmouth buffalo, will be returned back to the river.

    The DNR has given us the go-ahead to "gift" any carp we catch to anyone that would like them for consumption, their compost pile, or garden fertilizer.  The PCA does have some guidelines for use as garden/soil fertilizer that I can forward on to any interested parties.  I’ve notified some Hmong students about the availability of carp, as their families had expressed interested in utilizing the carp.

    If anyone is interested in using carp in their compost or gardens, they can come down to the riverwalk this afternoon to pick them up.  The DNR does know about the issue with sewage in the water from Faribault, but still gave the go-ahead for gifting fish to anyone that would like to put them to good use.

    Could you please get the word out that we’ll have carp available?  I’m unsure of how many carp we’ll pull out of the west side today.  Pat Ceas was down there earlier and noted a lot more fish over there – a mix of carp and buffalo. 

    September 28, 2010
  6. Don Bratland said:

    All of the fish in that video are Bigmouth Buffalo. They are a native species, not an invasive like carp. Whose idea was it to destroy them?

    September 29, 2010
  7. Phil Poyner said:

    Don, from the comment section of the Northfield News…in reponse to a similar question:

    By: NNSuzy on 9/29/10

    You’re right, those fish were buffalo, not carp, as I was told Monday. According to Pat Ceas, one of the St. Olaf biologists who helped capture the fish, On Monday they “were catching both carp & bigmouth buffalo, and the photos are of bigmouth buffalo.

    “Most of the fish that we caught yesterday (Monday), in fact, were bigmouth buffalo.

    “FYI, this afternoon (Tuesday) we seined the west riverwalk and caught about 50 more bigmouth buffalo, plus a few other fishes such as freshwater drum (also called sheephead), bluegill, and some small minnows & darters.

    “All fishes seined up today were released back to the river.”


    September 29, 2010
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    Don, the operation was managed by two St. Olaf profs who, according to this article in today’s Strib, knew the difference between carp and Bigmouth Buffalo as the latter was what they mostly dealt with yesterday (day 2 of the operation on the west side of Riverwalk. My video was from day 1 on the east side.)

    Fall flooding: Fishy and bizarre mark flood aftermath

    In Northfield, two St. Olaf biology professors finished the unusual two-day challenge of removing about 100 carp and bigmouth buffalo fish from some walled-in sidewalks along the Cannon River, where they’d sought refuge from floodwaters last weekend. The fish were trapped when the river dropped. The city had asked them to remove the fish.

    "They didn’t want a bunch of big dead fish rotting on the sidewalks," said Pat Ceas, a St. Olaf ichthyologist. Under state Department of Natural Resources rules, Ceas and Prof. Stephanie Schmidt, along with city workers and students, were prohibited from returning the carp, a nonnative species, to the river. (Carp caught on hook and line may be put back.) Monday’s catch was taken to a landfill, but Tuesday’s carp were made available to anybody who might have wanted to use them in compost. There were no takers.

    Most of Tuesday’s haul, Ceas said, were bighead buffalo, a native species that can be put back in the river. The sight of so many large fish in a small pool was "impressive," Ceas added. "It’s actually quite nice knowing that many bigmouth buffalo are in the Cannon River," he said.

    September 29, 2010
  9. Don Bratland said:

    I witnessed some of yesterday’s netting and release on the west side of the river walk, and I was very happy to hear one of the city workers say, “I guess these are a different species, so we’re supposed to put ’em back.” But I still don’t understand why the Buffalo on the east side were destroyed, especially when a biologist and ichthyologist were involved. It’s obvious from the video that they are Buffalo, and it’s equally obvious that it would have been easier to herd them back into the river than further onto land.

    September 29, 2010
  10. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I’m glad I did not witness the demise of the fish on the east side riverwalk. As I understand it, word got out by the time the cleanup effort moved to the west side that they were NOT carp, but buffalo, a native species. So they were spared and returned to the Cannon.

    Can someone out there tell us the distinguishing features of buffalo as compared to carp so we’ll be better prepared for next time?

    October 10, 2010

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