DMR stepping up efforts to rid bayous of koi kandy

Updated: Jun. 19, 2019 at 3:58 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) -The Department of Marine Resources is stepping up efforts to get rid of giant salvinia, otherwise known as koi kandy. It’s an invasive plant native to the Amazon River basin, and now it’s here in South Mississippi, choking the life out of some Jackson County bayous.

After boarding the boat, it doesn’t take long to run into large patches of koi kandy. How did the plant end up in bayous some 13 years ago? Mike Pursley, the invasive species program manager with the DMR has the answer.

“Before it was banned, it was a popular plant for water gardens. It’s pretty beautiful when it’s in a koi pond, but when it grows unchecked, people tended to dump it into the river, and that’s how it got started," Pursley said.

The perfect storm of conditions, including the prolonged opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway, has allowed the plant to grow unchecked, according to Pursley.

“Normally, this bayou is not suitable habitat for giant salvinia because of the salinity, but right now during this period of prolonged fresh water, we have had just an unprecedented problem in this area," he said.

He added the problem can be harmful.

“It chokes out the waterway and depletes dissolved oxygen, and then when that happens, the fish leave and habitat is reduced for birds and other aquatic life," Pursley said.

Now, the DMR is spraying herbicide to get rid of it.

“It works by actually shutting down the photosynthesis and the plant stops, and it generally dies and decomposes," Pursley said.

They will keep spraying until Mother Nature lends a hand.

“We’d like to come out here at least twice a week to be able to keep reducing the biomass until the normal salinity comes back and finishes the job for us," he said.

In addition to the dangers of choking off the bayous of Jackson County, this koi kandy presents another danger as well, and that happens on the bottom of your trailer.

“We encourage people to remove any from their boat and trailer before they go to another water body because this stuff can survive a week outside of water," Pursley said.

That’s the last thing people who call the bayou home want to see.

The problem is especially acute in Sioux Bayou, which is where the heavy spraying effort is now being concentrated.

Copyright 2019 WLOX. All rights reserved.