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Destructive species hitching ride on cargo ships make Seaway a bigger threat

For thousands of years, the Great Lakes were protected by Niagara Falls on the east and a subcontinental divide on the west, but those barriers to our grandest freshwater system were obliterated over the past century so that oceanic freighters could float in and Chicago sewage could float out.

Unwanted species have been invading with tick-tock regularity ever since.

It is a problem that lacks the graphic horror of the Gulf oil spill, but is more environmentally catastrophic in that it unleashes a pollution that does not decay or disperse - it breeds.

Native fish populations have crashed, freshwater beaches have suffocated under mounds of rotting algae, bird-killing botulism outbreaks have soared and the lakes' invasive species problems have spread down Chicago's canals, into the vast Mississippi basin and across the continent.

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