STEM Café tackles fishy foe Asian carp during free encore presentation Sept. 27 in Wheaton

The encore presentation of “The Trouble with Asian Carp” will discuss the environmental and safety concerns the fish are raising in Illinois.
The encore presentation of “The Trouble with Asian Carp” will discuss the environmental and safety concerns the fish are raising in Illinois.

They’ve invaded our rivers. They have moved north with few natural predators to stand in their way.

They’re Asian carp, and if they make it to Lake Michigan, experts say that the entire Great Lakes ecosystem could be at risk.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, join Illinois Department of Natural Resources expert Vic Santucci at Ivy Restaurant, 120 N. Hale St. in Wheaton, to discuss “The Trouble with Asian Carp.” This free talk is one of Northern Illinois University STEM Outreach’s monthly STEM Cafés, where the community is invited to eat, drink, and chat with experts about the latest scientific research and discoveries.

Based on the success of July’s presentation “The Trouble with Asian Carp” hosted by STEM Outreach and Tapa La Luna, organizers decided to present the topic again.

“We had a very enthusiastic standing-room-only crowd at Tapa La Luna,” says STEM Outreach associate Judith Dymond. “This encore presentation will give more people in the region a chance to learn about the changing ecology of their local river systems.”

Returning speaker Santucci is a certified fisheries professional with American Fisheries Society. He holds a master of science in zoology with a specialty in fishery science and management. He’s eager to share information on the Asian carp problem, or as he calls it, “the perfect storm for an invasive species,” and the unprecedented collaborative response to prevent these invaders from establishing populations in the Great Lakes.

You haven’t seen them swimming up the Fox River yet, so why should you be concerned?

  • Asian carp are eating machines that can weigh up to 100 pounds each.
  • They eat up to 20 percent of their body weight each day.
  • Each female is capable of producing up to 500 million eggs during a lifetime.
  • They’ve made their way to rivers in northern Illinois and could destroy native fish populations if they reach the Great Lakes.

Santucci will discuss how Asian carp made it to the United States and entered Illinois rivers, what problems they’re causing for native species and nature lovers, and how the Department of Natural Resources and their partners are planning to reduce and remove the Asian Carp population.

In addition to the response from naturalists and conservation organizations, several businesses are looking for ways to capitalize on the situation. Many companies in Illinois want to expand the harvest of Asian Carp for global markets where it is considered a delicacy, as well as develop domestic markets and support humanitarian aid where high quality protein is desired.

To help locals understand why Asian carp are so popular overseas, Ivy Restaurant owner, Dick O’Gorman, and his chef, David Overstreet, are working on some seafood-themed snacks and drink specials that attendees can purchase during the STEM Café talk.

STEM Cafe logo: Feed your mind!

The monthly STEM Cafés are an initiative of NIU’s STEM Outreach.

“Our goal with STEM Cafés is to demystify science, technology, engineering, and math topics for the general public,” Director Patricia Sievert says. “So far, nearly 300 local community members have attended STEM Cafés.”

This fall, NIU STEM Outreach is also presenting a special series of STEM Cafés to coincide with Public Television’s re-broadcast of the four-part NOVA series “Making Stuff,” which began airing again Wednesday, Sept. 19. Area residents are welcome to attend Making Stuff Smaller, planned Tuesday, Oct. 23,  at Cabana Charley’s in Sycamore.

STEM Cafés are just one of the ways that STEM Outreach spreads excitement about science, technology, engineering, and math. This October, STEM Outreach is hosting STEMfest, their annual celebration of all things STEM. STEMfest 2012 takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, at NIU’s Convocation Center. The festival is free, family-friendly and open to the public.

For additional information about  and other upcoming STEM Outreach events, go to www.niu.edu/stem or contact Judith Dymond at jdymond@niu.edu or (815) 753-4751.

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