AUGUST 24, 2020

Round Gobies Invading Hudson River Watershed

The round goby is one of four members of the goby family of fishes (Gobiidae) in the watershed. Round goby was introduced here, while the other three gobies are marine species. The round goby is a bottom-dwelling fish native to central Eurasia including the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. They were accidentally introduced into the North American Great Lakes by way of ballast water transfer in cargo ships where they have established robust populations. They were first discovered in North America in the Saint Clair River in 1990, the exact same entry point as the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in 1988. (Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy)
- Tom Lake

[The round goby found its way to the Mohawk River via canals from the Thousand Islands watershed where it shook up the food web. There are reports of lake sturgeon consuming large quantities of round goby, so we presume our Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon will do likewise. Round goby also tolerates strong salinity levels so New York Harbor will eventually be invaded.

The round goby is a very strong "ecological actor," particularly when it invades new ecosystems. An aggressive and voracious predator, the round goby feeds on eggs of native fish such as the sunfish, sculpin, killifish, logperch and other small littoral/benthic animals and out-competes them for food, shelter, and nesting sites.

While the round goby averages 4-10-inches, it can be expected to grow to larger sizes in brackish water. In the Saint Lawrence River, some round gobies are reported to reach a foot long.
- Karin Limburg, Bob Schmidt]