Stuart Carlton 0:00
Teach me about the Great Lakes. Teach me about the Great Lakes. Welcome back to teach me about the Great Lakes. A twice monthly, exactly twice monthly, no more, no less, exactly two. Podcast in which I at Great Lakes. Novice, as people are smarter and harder working than I am to teach me all about the Great Lakes. My name is Stuart Carlton. I know a lot about doing a whole draft in which you discuss the ways in which you are going to very cleverly figure out, in advance, whether or not you can play a baseball game and then go to the baseball game and start to play the baseball game, only to have all of that pre work ruined by a storm that pops up unbeknownst to you, unbeknownst to the meteorologist you consulted, unbeknownst to the four different freaking websites you were looking at, but I don't know a lot about the gray about the Great Lakes, and that's the point of this year. Show joined today by the one, the only the special, Carolyn, the full dog herself, fully. How are you full dog? I'm doing great. Stuart, doing great,

Carolyn Foley 0:55
because it's been, you know, I don't think that anyone who actually used to call me full Doug listens to this at all, but maybe I'll start sharing it. So we'll be like, hey, somebody's calling me that again. Okay.

Stuart Carlton 1:08
The old FD like Farley, Drexel, Hatcher, do you remember to read those fudge books? Fudge Foley. Fudgy Foley. Anyway, fantastic. Well, anyway, that's not why we're here. It's not even clear why we're here at this point, to be honest, it's okay.

Carolyn Foley 1:22
Cuz we're getting back. We're trying to get back on track.

Stuart Carlton 1:24
Getting back in the groove. We're getting back in the groove. Yeah, no, it's all good. It's all good. Actually, I'm pretty excited about this, because there's certain things that we're just always going to talk about. And when I saw this article, it was something I didn't even know existed and but I said, Well, this is obvious topic. And I said we should talk about this on Ask Dr fish and on teaching about the Great Lakes. And we did, and that is the apparent presence of goldfish in the Great Lakes. And I'm making a big assumption here. We're going to get into in a second. I'm making a big assumption that these are the same goldfish like you get at this county fair when you throw a ping pong into a fish ball. Maybe we're going to find out is a totally different goldfish, and this will be embarrassing for everybody. But first, let's go ahead and play our researcher feature.

Researcher feature, a feature in which your researcher gonna teach us about the Great Lakes.

Our guest today is Dr John Midwood. John is a research scientist at the Great Lakes laboratory for fish and aquatic sciences, art of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, in Ontario, and he's in Hamilton, I believe is what. Yeah, John, how are you today?

Dr. John Midwood 2:38
I'm doing great. How are you folks doing? Thanks so much for having me.

Stuart Carlton 2:40
John is the author of a interesting new article, a co author, one of several authors of an interesting article called life outside the fishbowl, tracking an introduced population of goldfish in an embayment on the Laurentian Great Lakes. So this is great. So John, let's start off. First of all, we may be able to end this call right now. These are the same goldfish, right? That like you get at the county fairs, is that correct?

Dr. John Midwood 3:03
That's absolutely right. So the exactly same species of goldfish, and we actually think a lot of the times they're arriving in these systems, because people are letting them go.

Stuart Carlton 3:10
Yeah, so the pets, we've talked about this with Tim Campbell before, and they don't want to, you know, they have to move or whatever, and so they don't want to toss a little fleshy down the toilet, so they put it in the in the lake instead, which is perfect. And so they can live in it. They don't get frozen out in the lakes or whatever. I guess their biology, they do just fine. Yeah, yeah.

Dr. John Midwood 3:29
So they're, they're from, originally from Eastern Asia, China, and so they pretty similar climate, you know, temper climate. They get cold winters, they get warm summers, all that kind of good stuff. They've been around in the North America, I think, since the 1800s if not even earlier, I saw one article talking about, you know, 1600s kind of a goldfish coming over and as part of the pet trade. So they've been here for a long time. But doing thriving in Hamilton Harbor, where I do, we do our work, they've been thriving since at least the 1960s

Carolyn Foley 3:56
Okay, so I have so many questions about, like, you know, you had, like, your pet goldfish when you were a kid, right? And it's like, so someone in the 1600s also, like, had a little pet goldfish that they

Dr. John Midwood 4:09
Yeah, so goldfish have been pets, I think, in China, going back to at least the ninth century. So it's a long history of them being ornamental pets and ponds, you know, not always in a glass bowl on your counter, but, nice to look at, nice to watch. And actually, the gold, the distinctive like orange we think of, is actually bred by people. So that's all us. Through selection, getting goldfish to look that way. And the longer they spend in the wild, they actually revert back to more their greenish, goldish color. And that's so one way we can kind of distinguish the ones that have been recently let go into the system and those that maybe have been kicking around for a while.

Stuart Carlton 4:41
And is it so? Is it on an individual basis, or, like a subpopulation basis, because I could see them changing their color back as part of, like a local evolution, right, to try to be better adapted, better camouflage, I suppose. Or do you mean each individual? Like, if I put out little fluffy and then I come back in four years, little fluffy will have changed colors.

Dr. John Midwood 4:59
Yeah, I don't know for sure. My understanding, though, is that it's actually more population level. So like those, those gold, you know, orange goldfish, are getting snapped up pretty readily if the water is clear enough, because they they just stand out, whereas the the ones that have the different morph, and if they can spawn, and the babies in the next generation are not always necessarily going to be orange.

Stuart Carlton 5:16
It's like those moths you always learn about in genetics

Dr. John Midwood 5:18
Yeah, the ones from England, the dusty mug. Yeah.

Carolyn Foley 5:22
Okay, so, so, okay, so we can back up. So you said, in case the water is clear. So you did this study in Hamilton harbor, and it's harbour with a U I went through all the notes, and I'm changing them back Stuart, because this is like the one time I am absolutely 100% allowed to spell it correctly.

Those are not Canadian geese. They are Canada geese. Thank you very much. Okay,

okay, so, can you tell us a little bit about Hamilton harbor and kind of why it's special, and you know, why did you study there? Tell us a little bit about the history for sure.

Dr. John Midwood 5:56
So, so Hamilton harbor is at the far west end of Lake Ontario. It's, you know, big triangular shaped embayment. It's 22 meters deep, 21 square kilometers, a big system. It's a long history of human development and degradation, and it's actually one of the Great Lakes areas of concern. So for the past 30 years, efforts have been underway to try to recover the system. And the initial sort of stressors were related to people being there. So sewage, eutrophication, you know, those kinds of problems we often find, but also a pretty heavy industrial presence, especially along the south shore. So the system is pretty degraded. And that's one of the reasons we think the goldfish have done so well, is that the the fish populations themselves are pretty degraded. So there's these opportunities for for for species like goldfish to come in and really thrive initially, when the system was first listed as an area of concern, common carp were the culprit species that was sort of seen as degrading a lot of the habitat. And I should say, too, at the far west end of the harbor, there's a place called Cootes paradise Marsh, which, as the name implies, once was a paradise. You know, birds abundant with birds, abundance with fish, all those kinds of good things. But over the years, degradation has really brought it down to be one of the most impaired coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes. And so a lot of the effort towards recovering Cootes paradise Marsh has been to try to keep the carp out. And so in 1996 a fishway was put in place, the one point where the marsh connects to the harbor. They put a big fish weigh in, and that was meant to actively pass the good fish over and stop the carp from getting in. So they still do it. I was there this morning, and they actually were doing lifts still and passing channel cat fish over and pushing the carp back into into the harbor. And so it's been really successful. So since 1996 we've seen a 50% reduction in biomass of carp, which is great news. So, you know, if you don't know carp, they stir up the sediment, they eat, you know, which wrecks the vegetation, which ruins the habitat. They have all these sort of, you know, ecosystem engineers in that sense, right? Really changing the environment. So it's great success in the carp front at the same time with the carp kind of dropping in numbers, these goldfish that have been around since at least the 60s. That's they have very similar habitat needs and feeding requirements as carp. And so they've actually come up in numbers. And we've actually seen a five to 10 fold increase in the number of goldfish we catch in our surveys since the carp really dropped off. And so we think that's, that's the goldfish are really replacing the carp in this system. So it's a fascinating study area. Hamilton harbor really complicated lots of stressors, lots of sewage treatment, there's eutrophication, there's habitat loss. It's just has an amazing history of of, you know, unfortunate things that can happen to an environment. We seem to have done it there, yeah.

Carolyn Foley 8:36
So you mentioned that it's like a five to 10 fold increase in what you're seeing, what did you start at? Like, what's that in actual numbers? Is it like you used to see, like, two goldfish, and now you see 10 or something else?

Dr. John Midwood 8:49
Yeah. So we have a standard electro fishing program so near shore, e fishing. And if you folks have talked about in the past

Stuart Carlton 8:55
no, but I could call it E fishing, that's pretty good.

Yeah, it's faster.

Speaker 1 9:00
Electro electro, yeah. So going back to the it's been going on since 1988 I should say our program. So we've got a really incredible data set that we get to work with well before my time. And my colleague, Christine Boston, who's the lead author on on the goldfish paper, and really has been our goldfish person for a number of years now, as we've done these works, she's led that program for almost 20 years. And so, you know, early on, 80s and 90s goldfish were certainly present. It wasn't unheard of to catch a goldfish, but on a transect by transect basis, you're talking maybe you know point one. So one out of 10 transects you're going to hit a hit a goldfish. And it's not the same across the harbor. They do tend to be more in the West End and all those kinds of kinds of things based on habitat needs. But what we sort of saw happening in 2006 was, you know, instead of being one in 10, well now it's one in in five, and then three, and then and two. So it's almost every other time you're hitting a goldfish when you're doing these transects. So the numbers have definitely gone up. Uh, now our colleagues at the Royal Botanical Gardens, who manage this fish way, they also have fantastic 20 years worth of data at that fish way. And you know, in recent years they had in one on one day, they saw 350 goldfish trying to come through. And that's a huge increase from what they used to see as well. So there's been this sort of change in that population. That's and this is why goldfish are such great invaders. They can really explode in numbers when they operate, when the opportunity arises. And I think 2019 was a really great year. Or 2018 that window, it's we. So we saw our biggest catch numbers in that year. And it's come down a little bit, but still much higher than we want to see.

Stuart Carlton 10:34
Do you know why it was a great year? Then? Was it something about the weather? Or

Dr. John Midwood 10:38
We can't, can't confirm for sure, but 2017 2019 we're both really high water years in Lake Ontario. And actually, I believe in 2017 the fish, way, was topped. So it stopped being a perfect barrier for a period of time because the water level was so high. So carp certainly got over. And no doubt, the goldfish got through. And it may have actually been that that higher water, you know, flooded a lot of vegetation, just better recruitment overall for that species, because they're they have sticky eggs, they want veg, so, you know, just a better recruitment year for them. And we're kind of seeing that play out.

Carolyn Foley 11:07
Okay, so, okay, so I'm going to go over detour from goldfish just for a second. Started. Okay, so you mentioned about electro fishing, because I do, but no, go ahead. Well, you can talk about electro fishing in a moment. I want to talk about this fish barrier, because so recently, I think it might have been Stuart who shared with a group of us this, like, fish doorbell. It's someplace in. Have you seen it before? It's in? It's in Europe, somewhere. And it's basically like, if enough fish, they've got a little video. And if enough fish come and people are kind of like, you can watch the video, and if you see a fish, you're supposed to ring the doorbell. And if enough fish come, then they kind of open up the causeway or whatever for the fish to get through. So I'm imagining, like, all of this, like, swarm of goldfish, like, being like, no, we want to get in. So how like, is there any way that they can like? So they're actively lifting species that they want to move and leaving the others behind. Is that correct? Am I understanding that right?

Dr. John Midwood 12:05
Yeah, it's a really incredible piece of engineering. But basically, picture like a fence with, I think it's five centimeters spacing on the bars. And so if you're bigger than five centimeters, that's sort of like you're going to get stopped at a certain point in front of that fence. They have these cages. And so basically, fish go in trying to get into the marsh. They feel the flow of the water and the different temperature, and they try to get in. And they get stuck in these cages. And when they're in operation, the Royal Botanical Garden staff lift twice a day, and I can't remember the exact number of cages, but several cages, and they lift, and they actually can bring them up, open it and dump all the fish out into a into a big container. There's videos online. Highly recommend you check it out. It's really amazing. And basically, then they can open a little sluice gate, and the fish kind of flow towards them, come towards them, and they'll collect some to measure carp and goldfish and all the native fishes trying to get through. And but they actually have this little like door. They can swing it one way or another. And if it's a carp, it goes one way out to the harbor. If it's a good fish, it goes the other way into the marsh. They go back and forth, back and forth. And forth. And there's these shoots where the fish go shooting out into the harbor or into the marsh as needed. So it's pretty incredible passage, because they have to pass so many fish. Like, if you can imagine, you know, a run of white sucker trying to come through and get in. You're not talking one or two, you're talking, you know, dozens, hundreds of fish you may be passing in a single day, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Carolyn Foley 13:20
Yeah, that is so cool. And now I feel like we're playing one of those games. Those games where it's

Dr. John Midwood 13:23
like, thumbs down,

Stuart Carlton 13:28
Yeah, it's just a real life version of wheel of fish, I guess. Which, I'm sure, I'm sure, you know.

Dr. John Midwood 13:35
That's a Weird Al throw back, right?

Carolyn Foley 13:37
Yeah, exactly.

Okay, all right. So how big are the goldfish? Like? What's the biggest goldfish?

Stuart Carlton 13:43
It's not just like because fluffy in the bowl, kind of is limited by the bowl, but in the harbor, they're limited by the harbor. So what I want to see exactly, I want to see some big goldfish. What are we looking at?

Dr. John Midwood 13:52
We're talking big goldfish. So the harbor, I think the largest one we've seen, is 47 centimeters, 18 and a half inches in length. The world record...

Stuart Carlton 14:01
both holding up for you. Those of you not viewing at home, Caroline simultaneously did the two hand kind of back and forth, holding up thing, measuring out 18. Or she's probably doing centimeters, but I'm measuring.

Carolyn Foley 14:12
I was actually, yeah. So

Dr. John Midwood 14:15
if you picture like a football, a Canadian football, not an American football, they're, uh, it's they, they're that size often, you know, big, big, round football thing, the world record. I looked it up, 23 inches, 59 centimeters, just under 10 pounds. So they, you know, fluffier goldfish versus this. It's a massive difference in sizes. Yeah, all right. I'm googling pictures of huge goldfish. Yep, yep, look on there. So Christine's, she's, has a great Twitter account where she has.

Stuart Carlton 14:43
Oh, the dish, gross looking like

Dr. John Midwood 14:47
Some of them are quite beautiful when they're quite big and orange and lovely. But they,

Stuart Carlton 14:50
Oh, I guess that's just a difference of opinion. We have them. Okay, that's what I meant.

Dr. John Midwood 14:53
They are an ornamental species. Yeah.

Carolyn Foley 14:58
It is possible that there are many people who selected them specifically because they're pretty.

Dr. John Midwood 15:04

Stuart Carlton 15:05
That's not pretty. That thing's gross.

Carolyn Foley 15:08
Okay, wow, that's wild. Okay, so, um, so then what kind of effect are they having? Like you said that they're sort of replacing carp. And I guess the other thing I'm going to back up just for a second, are goldfish, technically a carp, or what are they? Like? A supreme

Stuart Carlton 15:28
I have important feedback here, this huge, gross goldfish that I just pasted it. It's some sort of a hybrid. Yes, this is a hybrid of a leather carp and a Koi Carp. This is a fake goldfish. I'm giving you bad news, bad information. This was a fake goldfish. I'll try to find a picture of a big real goldfish. Maybe it won't be so gross. Okay,

Dr. John Midwood 15:49
they absolutely hybridize. They are they are the families that print a day, so certainly related to the common carp, and also related to Prussian carp and crucian carp, which are other aquatic invasive species in North America. And so they can all hybridize, and they have these sort of intermediate characteristics when you're trying to identify them. So goldfish do not have barbells, but their hybrids do have barbells on their cheeks, yeah? So definitely hybridizing

Stuart Carlton 16:13
That should have given it away. This, this big, ugly one, the 67 pound monstrosity like catfish.

Dr. John Midwood 16:20
With all the barbells, little barbells. Yeah?

Carolyn Foley 16:22
Okay. So what kind of, so, what kind of two part question, what one, what kind of impacts are they having on the system, specifically in Hamilton Harbor that you've studied? And then two, are they kind of, you know, is there, is there some degree of, like, badness, of invasiveness, like, are they like better or worse than the carp? Are they just the same? What's the outlook there?

Dr. John Midwood 16:49
I think, for the second question, just briefly, maybe a little bit too early to tell, but I'll try to get back to that in a moment. In terms of the impacts too, we it's really hard to distinguish what is a goldfish impact versus what is a carp impact? But if we talk about Cootes, Paradise marsh in particular, again, there the reason for the fishway was to stop them getting in, foraging the sediment for benthics and invertebrates and detritus, the things they like to eat the carp. And as a result, stirring up the sediment really hydrobidity, the vegetation is all gone, and that's not great habitat anymore for your native fishes. So that's like the carp. That's like the carp impact. Goldfish effectively have the same impact. They eat basically the same thing as as carp. They're omnivorous. They can eat a wide range of things. They forage in the same manner in the substrates and stir things up. The only I'll call it a benefit with quotations, is that they're smaller. So instead of it being something that's almost a meter length, a big, huge carp doing this activity. It's a smaller goldfish, but if you have the same biomass of goldfish as you do carp, they're gonna have the same types of impacts. The difference is that the fish way blocks the carp really effectively. When they're a certain size, the goldfish tend to be smaller and tend to sometimes be able to be able to get through that fish barrier. So they're actually getting back into the marsh more readily, and they can actually spawn at a much younger and smaller size. So you have, you know, reproductively viable goldfish can get through the barrier back into this marsh. And then you have a, you know, the potential for a big population to thrive back there. You know, just like in your fish bowl, there's no there's very little oxygen in that fish bowl. And there's a reason the goldfish do so well, because they can thrive in low oxygen scenarios. Same thing back here in the marsh in the summer, there's sometimes not a lot of oxygen. They do great back there, so they're really well adapted to these really degraded conditions, and they can thrive and reproduce in those areas. So that's like past the goalie. It's pretty bad news, then, exactly. So getting through it poses a big challenge which can lead us on to the study, and one of the reasons why we undertook it, but in terms of impacts, really similar to the carp, one other thing that the goldfish can do that the carp can't do is they will eat algae. And they can actually eat some of the more harmful algal species you see in a big bloom. They can eat that and they actually, they're thought to also have a positive feedback with that algae and that they eat it, they excrete it, and that nutrient rich material they're excreting that used to be algae, goes to make more algae. And so you get this cycle of reinforced by the goldfish being present. That isn't as much of an issue with the carp. We don't think so, but hard to quantify the extent that that's driven by goldfish alone, versus the other eutrophication issues in our system. But that's one of the other potential impacts. And last one I'll mention for both the species too, is that they will eat eggs and larvae. So they could actually be foraging on your native fish that are trying to recruit in these in these wetland areas.

Stuart Carlton 19:34
So then Against this background, against what might be termed an alarming increase in Goldfish population, or alarming or otherwise, but like, it's pretty significant. You were saying right in that it's going up almost year over year in your electro fishing surveys. You decided to do this study. And what is it that you wanted to learn about goldfish with the work you were doing?

Dr. John Midwood 19:54
Yeah, so it's a this is the first study that's kind of looking at their spatial ecology and understanding how a fish moves, or species moves, and what types of habitat they're using is, sort of is so critical to be able to begin to develop potential management strategies for this kind of species. And so we had three sort of primary goals here. And the first was to understand that distribution in the system. So there are they all across the whole harbor? You know, are they concentrated in certain areas? That was one of the sort of initial questions. And also, do they aggregate? So common carp will aggregate over the winter in like a big pulp, you know, pile of carp all stacked up in one area. We don't know if goldfish do that. Another question we had was the depth of where they are in the water column. And the reason we care about that is if we want to undertake a more active method of control. So a barrier is a passive method, so they just kind of sits there and stops them from coming in. A more active method is to try to, like, if they're aggregated somewhere, can you use boat electro fishing and collect them and perhaps, you know, do a call or whatnot that's further down the line, but we didn't know the depth they occupy. And the last piece was, we're trying to identify whether there's any drivers of specific movements that we could maybe use so the phenology of the species, can we maybe use that to support better management of barriers? And what I mean by that is, if you have a passive barrier, it blocks everyone. But if you know that your pike are going to spawn in March and your goldfish don't arrive until May, you could leave that system wide open for a month and let all your happy pike flow into the wetland and come back out before you block it off. And so there's that need to understand the phonology of of these types of movements, so so that the three pillars of the study were based on that, and we used acoustic telemetry as one of our methods to get at some of these questions. We also use some bot electro fishing data, and then we talk document that trend that I mentioned in the paper. And then we finally, we use the Royal Botanical Gardens arrival data. So like every time they do a lift, they count the number of goldfish for the past 20 years. And so we use that piece to actually get at the phenology question, because it gives us multiple years worth of data to work with that we can pair with, with with water temperature to develop models.

Carolyn Foley 22:00
So how far can an individual goldfish move? Do you think

Dr. John Midwood 22:04
So? In our study, they seem to be largely contained to the harbor. So, you know, the harbors eight kilometers long. It's well within their area of movement that no issues with them going end to end, if they wanted to. Over the course of a season, we did have one individual that poked its nose out into Lake Ontario. There's only one access point, I should mention, between the harbor and Lake Ontario. It's a canal, shipping canal. So one goldfish found its way out into Lake Ontario for two weeks, and came back, maybe too cold, came back in however, in other studies, so they're also an invasive species in Australia and in a river system there, they've seen them moving well over 100 kilometers. So they have the ability and capacity to make really large scale movements. We didn't capture that in our work here, but we only had a sample size initially, of 11. We've since tagged an additional, I believe, 30 goldfish, and over the years to come, we'll do some more research on that, but you need to document that they have the potential to move. We just haven't seen it. So yeah, it means that Hamilton could be a source.

Stuart Carlton 22:59
Help me understand sample size and how it matters here. So 11 is not a lot of fish, right? Lot of fish, right? But you read, you know, there's a lot of large scale studies that study just 1000s and 1000s. Or you hear about, like, medical studies, sometimes they'll just have, like, 1010, people trying to remember what they last month. So, so what are the limitations? Like, what do we know with 11 fish? Or, what? Like, how confident are we? I guess, that we're capturing the goldfish behavior with 11 or with four.

Dr. John Midwood 23:25
Yeah. So for telemetry studies, this, these types of works, what I like to do, if it's a species that's not well known, is do these kinds of smaller scale pilot studies, because you don't know what area you need to cover, necessarily, to address your question and putting out the receivers that are, you know, a stationary, passive receiver. It's, it's a lot of work. So, you know, we have the harbor pretty well covered through a larger collaborative network called the Great Lakes acoustic telemetry observation system. Most of Lake Ontario is now covered as well, which is fabulous. So we've got stations everywhere that are looking. When we first started the study, we didn't have all those stations in place. So our smaller sample size is really more. Can we tag goldfish? Do they survive? Can we get the kind of information we might want to or might need before you do a larger scale study of these fish? And so that was sort of, that's the reason we settled on such a small initial, small number. And also, you know, are there any other areas we need to cover. And so what we since that this work, we've actually increased the density of our receivers at the west end of the harbor, because they do seem to be primarily resident in that area. We've added more receivers into some of the wetlands that are in some of the creeks and channels nearby. So so it's, it's sort of told us, okay, we need to look here more. We need to cover this area better. We also realized we need to tag some smaller goldfish because our bigger fish, we're not able to get through the barrier. So we've got some smaller fish tagged, more fish tag and better coverage in the system. So back to the question about, can we get sorry in terms of the small sample size, the limitation there is that if it's one in 1000 fish that makes a massive migration, we do not have the same. Size to detect that. We've done some work on common carp, and with that study, I believe we had a sample size of 60 to 100 maybe overall, somewhere in that range. And with that, none of the carp tagged in Hamilton really left Hamilton, but carp tagged in Toronto Harbor, which is about 50 kilometers away, they moved all over. Some of them moved all over Lake Ontario. So there's, there's sort of a, there's a, is a bit of a threshold you need to hit before you do start capturing these more extensive movements.

Carolyn Foley 25:28
It would be really cool to know down the line, like, are they not leaving because they're very happy where they are? Or, yeah, so, so is it like, essentially, like a source or a sink? That would be cool,

Dr. John Midwood 25:38
Exactly. And Hamilton's fairly isolated the West End, you know, in terms of what it is, it's it has shallow warm areas, areas to find the next shallow warm area, fish has to go out into the, you know, cold, scary conditions of Lake Ontario, and transit along that shoreline to find the next wetland area, which is, you know, 10s of kilometers away. So they need to really have something pushing them out into the system to go and find those other good habitat areas, especially for a warm water species like this.

Stuart Carlton 26:05
Are there? Are there predators out there that might be a problem for them?

Dr. John Midwood 26:08
The one of the challenge with goldfish is, if they, once they size up, they're pretty much gate limited. See, there's not a lot of predators that can eat them once they're a football. Yeah. So there are predators, absolutely, for smaller, you know, smaller fishes that might poke the nose out there, the salmons and whatnot.

Stuart Carlton 26:25
Yeah, when you bull sharks.

Carolyn Foley 26:27
No bull sharks, no.

Dr. John Midwood 26:29
Only in the news,

Carolyn Foley 26:32
but yeah, okay. So what does this mean for like, Do you have a message that you try to share with people? Or do you have a plan? Okay, I think you mentioned that, depending on what you find long term, and as you continue to explore this, you could maybe open the gate at different times of year to try to block the goldfish, but not the other fish, or you might be able to use what you know about their movement to direct them into desirable places and away from places you don't want them to be. Do you have plans, like clear plans, where you're trying to go for goldfish management and or do you have any thing that you would really want people to know about how they can help manage goldfish?

Dr. John Midwood 27:13
Yeah, so, so just in answer the first question there, you know, we're the research group. We're an applied research group. So we want to develop the science that can support that management. We ourselves are not a management my lab is not a management group. So we obviously would love to see you know, some uptake in terms of active management. There are challenges. There Hamilton harbor being a area of concern with contaminated sediments. These benthic oriented fishes do tend to have high PCB heavy metal burdens that makes it actually quite challenging to do calls and remove large numbers of them, because then you're talking about actually having to pay for disposal of these, these fishes. It's also very challenging to do, you know, to humanely euthanize a large number of fish. So that's definitely a challenge. Those are hurdles that will have to be overcome if we're going to implement a more active, you know, removal culling approach. So your second question there, I want to give shout out to Christine again too here, because she's worked really hard to the City of Hamilton and done some additional work in stormwater management ponds. So those ponds in your neighborhood, and what we find in those ponds are they're a hotbed for goldfish. And it makes sense, because if you're at your house and you have your goldfish, and you look around, I'm done, you know, where do I take fluffy you go to the pond out back. I actually have a pond in my backyard. They get drained, but they're also connected to natural waterways, so that pond connects back to the harbor. And so what Christine's done with the City of Hamilton is actually developed some signage that can go up at these ponds. That tells the story, explains why you can't be releasing your aquarium fishes back into these systems, even though they may look disconnected. It's a pond. It all flows back into the harbor, and they will get back into that system. And so the best thing we can do collectively is like, just limit that release in the first place. You know, it's a challenge when they're already established in the system, like Hamilton harbor to control. It's always more challenging. Always more challenging to control after they've gotten out. But it's that preventative, educational side of this that I think is so critical, and is really the message that has to get out to folks, is that there's when you're done with a fish, you gotta find a different place to take it. I was actually doing another interview this morning with a PBS newshour group, and they had just come from the I think it's the last chance lagoon, which is, I believe in Pennsylvania. I'm gonna get that wrong anyway. And it's a place you can take your fish when you are done, and say, Please, I can't look after my goldfish anymore. And they will take it and it gets to live out the rest of its life somewhere else that's not at risk of it being in theory, you know, that released out into a natural setting.

Carolyn Foley 29:41
That's interesting. They've also done so we work for Illinois, Indiana Sea Grant, and our aquatic invasive species team has been a part of, like, pet take back events where it's kind of like, you can come and you can surrender. I'll be honest, I don't know what happens with them afterward going to a lagoon and living out your life. Sounds kind of cool.

Stuart Carlton 29:59
It's they go to the farm, they go to a farm.

Dr. John Midwood 30:01
They go to farm upstate, right?

Stuart Carlton 30:05
know what happens either. Actually, we talked about that, actually a very recent episode with the Tim Campbell. We had a follow up on the lakeies. We have our Lakey awards. And we had a follow up episode because Titus had some complaints, and Tim Campbell joined us. We talked about things you could do with invasive species. So I will put a link to that in the show notes, yeah,

Carolyn Foley 30:25
We should also link back to the episode that we just did where we drafted. We were picking monitoring equipment, and I actually mentioned GLaDOS, and it was like, I think my first pick for my team and Stuart was like, I don't think I've ever heard of this, and I felt like I had failed as a human, like, never spoken of that before.

Stuart Carlton 30:49
Success is human. It's,

Dr. John Midwood 30:53
yeah. Glass House is an incredible network. It's just, it's amazing, yes, yeah. And the data that you the data, but you can visualize with it.

Stuart Carlton 31:01
It's really, really cool. So how many, how many goldfish have you personally eaten? Zero at this point, I know.

Dr. John Midwood 31:07
I'll be honest and say, Actually, don't eat a lot of fish to begin with. Yeah, it's not just a it's not a goldfish thing, not that I'm recommending you eat goldfish, but I don't eat a lot of fish.

Stuart Carlton 31:14
No, they can't Well, so I one of my pet it's not a peeve. One of my things is we love to talk about eating our way out of invasive species problems. As far as I can tell, it literally never happened. And I don't think it can happen, and I think it's fun to talk about, but, but, and I understand why they talk about it may be good for raising awareness and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but, but it to me, a lot of times people go to that solution as opposed to thinking about other solutions, to the extent that thinking about solutions is even the way to think about it, but, but, but nobody's eating a goldfish. Like, it's just not going to happen. Like, I mean, you can rebrand all you want, but it's always, nobody's it's always gonna be fluffy, so

Dr. John Midwood 31:50
Exactly. And, you know, unlike common carp, which I think are eaten often, and we have another invasive species, another invasive site, printed in Hamilton Harbor, which is the Rudd, and apparently they're also frequently eaten as well.

Stuart Carlton 32:02
Yes, Well, John, this is interesting. It's really good to hear about, like, all the different work you're doing on goldfish. And I had no idea that they were, like, a significant problem. And have been forever going back, you know, now you get them at the county fairs. It sounds like they used to get them at the county fairs with a knee on the end 17th century or whatever. And that's all good and interesting and important stuff, but that's actually not why we invited you here on teaching about the Great Lakes this week. The reason okay we invited you on teaching about the Great Lakes is ask you two questions. And the first one is this, if you could choose to have a great donut for breakfast or a great sandwich for lunch, which one would you choose?

Dr. John Midwood 32:37
I have to go with donut, and I have to give a shout out to Beachwood donuts in st Catherine's Ontario. There it is, down. Yeah, you got to Google it. It's well worth every month they have a new donut of the month or two that are fabulous. I believe it's vegan. I don't know how and their coconut cream going for it.

Stuart Carlton 32:55
It turns on your definition of yeast very often. Okay, this was in the first year this woman, I'll go back and find it, but, but she was a vegan, and she donut, and I inquired, and she said, Let's just not talk about this.

Dr. John Midwood 33:09
Okay, so let's, I'll retract the vegan statement. But at a minimum, what they do with, I think it's coconut cream is incredible. If you like coconut at all. Their coconut cream donut is phenomenal. Also, this month, they are offering a Black Forest Cronut that I have had once before, and it is delightful.

Stuart Carlton 33:26
Yeah, you only have three, right? You get three lifetime and then on the fourth one,

Dr. John Midwood 33:31
and recently, they delivered that to Hamilton too. So that's even better. On the Tuesdays, they deliver donuts to Hamilton. Really, this is perfect.

Carolyn Foley 33:42
And also, I want to point out that he was writing in there and you misspelled donuts as well, Stuart, but I fixed it for you in the notes, and it will be correct in the show notes, which are at whatever teach me about the Great really? 96 really, yeah, 95 should be 96 Yeah. Thank you for volunteering to write the show notes. Carolyn, I appreciate that. Yes, you're welcome. Okay, so, John, the second question we have for you is, so part of the goal of this show is to learn more about all the awesome places that people can explore in the Great Lakes region, if they so wish. So we like to ask our guests, what is a special place in the Great Lakes that you'd like to share with our audience, and what makes it special?

Dr. John Midwood 34:28
Yeah, so I was fortunate to do my grad studies in Georgian Bay, which is part of Lake Huron, and specifically along the eastern shore and northern shore of Georgian Bay, which is beautiful Canadian Shield country, as close to pristine as I think you can get in a lot of the Great Lakes, you know, that's mostly cottages out there. And for me, that place holds a special place in heart as well, because that's where I met my lovely wife, and we won the last year of my graduate studies. She and I got to spend four weeks once, one week a month for the whole summer, just the two of us, camping in Massasauga Provincial Park. A beautiful location. And every morning, we get up, make a campfire, go out in our canoe, set some fight nets, pull, sorry, pull the fight nets from the night before, reset the fight nets, come back, make fire for lunch. It was just, it was a wonderful experience. Massasoga Provincial Park is a gorgeous place. Eastern Georgia Bay is incredible. And, yeah, highly recommend. I was hesitant to share it, because I don't want people to go there, yeah, but, but it's a must see if you ever get a chance to be in that area. The shield is incredible. The wetlands are everywhere, and there's just wonderful biodiversity in that area.

Stuart Carlton 35:31
Fantastic. Sure to not go there, then thank you. Yeah, should I be in the neighborhood? I will definitely check it out. Well, Dr John Midwood, research scientist with the Great Lakes laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic scientists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Hamilton, Ontario, where they deliver donuts on Tuesdays. Thank you so much for coming on and teaching us all about the Great Lakes. Thank you both.

Well, that was good. That was good to learn about goldfish and Phew, same goldfish. I mean, kind of fuf, kind of not, or whatever. So one thing we like to do often, at the end of our interviews, we do it most interviews is to talk about one thing we learned. So, Carolyn, what's one thing you learned about the Great Lakes today?

Carolyn Foley 36:28
Well, I don't know if it counts as about the Great Lakes, but about this. You know, recent invader in the Great Lakes, the goldfish. I think it's kind of inter interesting that humans, over such a long time, can all kind of gravitate toward the same animal as a pet. I think that's really, really neat, and it, you know, if I could stick around for a long time, those are the weird kind of questions I would want to look like, you know, do humans like 5000 years from now still think goldfish are cool and still potentially have to be like, wait, no, but we don't want them to invade all of our natural environments or things like that.

Stuart Carlton 37:05
Yeah, so I'm gonna chat GPT that right now, do humans?

Carolyn Foley 37:09
Oh, no, please don't. I finished robocolips. I finished it, and it's, it's okay, but what's, what's something that that you learned about the Great Lakes to do?

Stuart Carlton 37:18
Yeah, one thing I was gonna say is that goldfish, oh, FYI. Predicting the sentiments of humans 5000 years into the future is quite speculative.

Carolyn Foley 37:27
So thank you ChatGPT.

Stuart Carlton 37:30
And then there's a whole bunch of slop. And then ultimately, whether goldfish are considered cool in the future will depend on the evolving values and preferences of future generations. Very helpful. They don't know how much carbon did I just admit to get that answer out of the stupid computer thing? Yeah. Anyway, the point is, I learned. So I've always, I've seen these pictures of goldfish before, but it's, it's they're hybrids that, like the biggest, grossest ones, are hybrids. I did not realize that, and the barbells is a good way to check, right? I'm holding up, for those you watching at home, I'm holding up my fingers by my mouth and wiggling them like a good barbell or barbell. You can pronounce it either way anyway. My point is this, I didn't know that, so the actual goldfish, they're still not cute. I mean, I'm just going to have to disagree with Dr Midwood on that. They're good looking, but that's fine. Reasonable people could disagree, but they're not nearly as gross as, like, the 65 pound monstrosity, hybrid things that just look like something out of a out of a bad part of a Marvel movie.

Carolyn Foley 38:23
Yeah? Being honest, I also felt a little bit bad in there. This is like true confession time, because my pet goldfish, apparently the oxygen got really low

Stuart Carlton 38:34
All of mine I killed because I didn't know that you couldn't feed them coordinated water. So I've killed a lot of goldfish. Thanks. A nice fresh bowl of water. Yeah, that's cool. Oh, well.

Carolyn Foley 38:43
Okay, so if you want to hang out with us, assuming this will this comes out before Illinois, let's, let's pretend that. Okay, we'll pretend like that. If this comes out before May 21 and you happen to be at the International Association for Great Lakes Research Conference in lovely Windsor, Ontario, Canada. You can join us at the Kildare house, which is in Walkerville, at around eight o'clock or so on May 21 we will be doing a live recording with Trevor picture of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research if it's after May 21 when you're listening to this, spoiler alert, one of the future episodes will be a live episode. Just a chance for free food.

Stuart Carlton 39:27
We're gonna have free food, free stickers, till I run out of stickers, and free engaging conversation with Trevor.

Carolyn Foley 39:37
Teach me about the Great Lakes is brought to you by the fine people at Illinois Indiana Sea Grant, we encourage you to check out the cool stuff we do at IIC, and at Illinois Indiana Sea Grant on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Stuart Carlton 39:55
Our senior producer is Carolyn Foley and Teach Me About the Great Lakes is produced by Megan Lake lover gun and Renee miles. Ethan Kitty is our associate producer and our fixer, and our super fun podcast. Artwork is by Joel Davenport, Joel the D man Davenport, and the show is edited by Cindy Sandra, professional, professional name who may be or may have been at our live show. Uh, we'll see.

Carolyn Foley 40:26
If you have a question or comment about the show, please email it. Do teach me about the Great or leave a message on our very old, very wonderful Hotline at 765496447, or award. You can also follow the show on Twitter at Teach Great Lakes, but it's not exactly Coots paradise over there these days. Thanks for listening and keep grading those lakes. That's me trying to get the timing.

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