QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2004-10 > 1097938295
Date: Sat, 16 Oct 2004 10:51:48 EDT
'Frankenfish' Caught in Great Lakes
Fri Oct 15
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The dreaded Northern Snakehead, a voracious predator
dubbed the "Frankenfish" that can breathe out of water and wriggle across land,
has invaded the Great Lakes, authorities said on Friday.
Scientists with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources identified the
18-inch-long (46-cm-long), sharp-toothed fish netted over the weekend in a
harbor near Chicago's downtown by a fisherman, who put it in his freezer and
posted a photograph of the creature on the Internet.
A native of China, the Northern Snakehead was first discovered in 2002
breeding in East Coast ponds -- one of which was poisoned and another drained --
and has since been spotted in the Potomac River in Virginia, in Florida and in
other places -- but not, until now, in the Great Lakes.
"These things are voracious feeders. They're a very aggressive fish," said
Mike Conlin of the Department of Natural Resources. "We hope it's a stray,
dumped there by somebody who got tired of feeding it."
Teams will use electric cables in the harbor to shock fish to the surface to
look for more of the species, which can survive the cold Midwest winter and
eats other fish, frogs and even birds and mammals. If it breeds, it could
devour game fish and devastate the lakes' multibillion-dollar fishing industry.
The Great Lakes, the world's largest body of fresh water, has long been
plagued by invasive species, with the latest being the Zebra Mussel, the Round
Goby and the Sea Lamprey.
Earlier this week, authorities announced plans to erect an electrified,
underwater barrier in the waterway connecting Lake Michigan to the Mississippi
River watershed to try to stave off the northerly advance of the Asian Carp, a
huge fish that gobbles up vital phytoplankton. The carp, which escaped flooded
fish farms along the Mississippi, is within 50 miles of Lake Michigan.
Alarmed Asian Carp have been known to leap from the water and knock out
people in boats.
The electrified barrier will be adjacent to one erected a few years ago,
designed to keep the Round Goby from migrating from Lake Michigan into the
Mississippi River watershed, but the effort came too late.