Friday, August 15, 2008

SNAKEHEAD: KILLER FISH PROBLEM

Remember a week ago, we saw the headline in the papers about a killer fish just south of Ulster County? Well, the first thing I noticed was, where are the pictures that should go along with this sensational headline? Nothing!

I thought, OK ill look the Snakehead up online, but soon forgot as my workday went on.

Today, the Record announces the State’s accomplishment of wiping out the menace from the local creek and Ridgebury Lake in Wawayanda, NY. (about 10 minutes west of Middletown)

The DEC said about 200 of the snakeheads recovered were juveniles. That shows the snakeheads were reproducing rapidly. Amazingly, one of the monsters was 31-inches and 11 pounds.

The record reports that about eight tons of other fish were collected and their carcasses have been composted. Restocking the 1,400 fish that were pulled out of the lake will commence as soon a she poison levels drop.


Will the DEC conduct an investigation as to how such a nasty fish gets into a contained waterway like Ridgebury Lake? Is someone breeding and stocking this species to wipe out the natural stocks?

This is the description from another fish site:
Snakehead: Native to China, the northern snakehead—found in recent years in Maryland ponds and the Potomac River—is distinguished by its small head, large mouth, big teeth, and ability to wriggle across land. The fish, which grows up to 40 inches (100 centimeters) long and can weigh up to 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms), is a voracious feeder. It can decimate native fish stocks in North American waters. The fish can survive for several days out of water.

I would think, if such a fish showed up in our local waters, our local DEC personell would be suspicious of its sudden appearance.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great, another Chinese import invades US turf and kills off the native occupants.
This is the only time the government made the effort to help those that suffer from the Chinese imports.

Anonymous said...

This is an example of our tax dollars being used to repair damage done purposly by individuals with the intent to harm.
Not very different from the lawsuits in DPW. In the end, a few people hope to get taxpayer dollars in their pockets.
If you ask me, the native fish in that lake had a better chance with the Snakeheads.

Anonymous said...

I am sure the poison will be good for turtles and people's wells?

david.skryja said...

Northern snakehead hysteria hardly justified

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/08/whatever-happened-horrifying-frankenfish

Whatever happened to ... that horrifying Frankenfish?

The Virginian-Pilot
August 4, 2008

It unfolded like a scene in a bad horror flick: Nasty, razor-toothed fish surfaced in local waters. Officials claimed the fish would annihilate the ecosystem and began an extermination campaign with poison and electric charges.

That was six years ago, after the first northern snakehead fish were discovered in a pond outside Crofton, Md. The media dubbed the Asian import "Frankenfish." A s the fish spread to the Potomac and into Virginia, wildlife officials grew increasingly concerned.

Now, one state official is saying the threat may have been blown out of proportion.

"It was one of those circular things," said John Odenkirk, a biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. "Some agencies probably potentially overreacted, and the media latched onto that."

Instead of wreaking havoc, Odenkirk said, the snakeheads don't appear to interfere with native and naturalized species. They keep to shallow, slow-moving waters with dense vegetation and feed primarily on killifish, a type of minnow.

"They're occupying a different niche than the largemouth bass and other fish," Odenkirk said. "At this point, we haven't been able to detect any ill effects."

That's despite their apparently surging numbers. "To put it in context, in 2004, when we started electro-fishing, it took four or five hours to find one snakehead," Odenkirk said. "Now, in an hour, we might catch 8 or 10."

However, it can take up to 30 years for scientists to determine the true impact of an invasive species, Odenkirk cautioned.

"We're still killing them when we get them," he said. "But we're not under any illusions that we're going to slow them down. In addition to studying them, we want to contain them."

Snakeheads are established in the Potomac and its tributaries between Great Falls and Stafford County. The salinity content downstream is too high for them to survive, he said.

They're unlikely to spread any farther without human help, Odenkirk said, even though they can live for days out of water by breathing through a primitive lung.

Reports that northerns could "walk" on their pectoral fins to new bodies of water were false, he said, though other species of snakehead can move over land by wiggling their bodies.

Northern snakeheads are indigenous to China, Korea and Russia, where they're considered a delicacy and medicinal. They resemble the native bowfin and can grow to four feet in length.

According to published reports, a male and female were tossed into the pond near Crofton by a man who'd ordered them to make a soup for his ailing sister. Her condition improved before they arrived.

Federal regulations enacted in 2002 made it illegal to import all 28 snakehead species. The same year, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries added them to its list of predatory and undesired exotic species, making it illegal to possess one without a permit.

Fishermen can legally catch snakeheads, provided they kill them immediately and notify the department. The aggressive predators appear to have found their niche in that respect, too.

"It's almost like a cult following," Odenkirk said. "People interested in catching them want to eat them, or they're just latched onto the whole aura."

"For a freshwater fish, the meat is very firm, white and thick. It's quite tasty."

Greg Gaudio, (757) 222-5125, greg.gaudio@pilotonline.com

Anonymous said...

Looks like Jim Sottile on a revenge mission.