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N. Sivasothi,
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Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. Since 1998 with origins from OneList.

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Mon 10 May 2004

Northern snakehead Channa argus reappears in Maryland?

Category : envt

With an enthusiastic fluorish (They're back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), US colleagues of Raffles Museum's Peter Ng sent him this article about the capture of a 19-inch, 4-year old snakehead Channa argus in Maryland.

Read "A Creepy Catch of The Day". By David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 29 April 2004.

The attention over the appearance of snakeheads in a few US states between 2000 and 2002. Was alarming. While most accounts refer to C. argus, amongst the 2002 Maryland catch was the aggressive Channa micropeltes. To eradicate the fish then, the the lake was poisoned with rotenone, native fish species were reintroduced and snakehead import to the US banned. Phew!

The idea that some snakehead species are highly predatory, breathe out of water, and appear to be able to travel overland, was and still is a fisheries nightmare. This resulted in U.S. Geological Survey Circular No. 1251, "Snakeheads (Pisces, Channidae): A Biological Synopsis and Risk Assessment." You can download all 53MB of it or read it off the web. It contains some gems, even a 1959 cartoon!

The angler who caught the fish said it 'had the head of snake and the teeth of a shark'. News accounts had also referred to the fish as 'Frankenfish'. You can read more and up to date reports in the Baltmore Sun. And the USGS keeps track.

Posted at 5:12PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news