From: Associated Press
Published October 25, 2004 12:00 AM

Biologists Are Concerned the Northern Snakehead Could Threaten the Great Lakes Ecosystem

CHICAGO — A fish known for its voracious appetite and ability to wreak havoc on freshwater ecosystems was found in Chicago's Burnham Harbor, alarming state biologists.


An angler caught the 18-inch fish recently and thought it looked peculiar, so he posted a picture of it on the Internet. Scientists recognized it as a northern snakehead, a native of China, Korea, and Russia.


Officials said they would scan the harbor near Lake Michigan with electronic equipment to verify whether other northern snakeheads are present. If so, they are concerned the fish could multiply and gobble up native fish.


"I'm hoping this is just a random fish dumped out of an aquarium by somebody who didn't know what to do with it," said Tom Trudeau, head of the Lake Michigan fisheries program at the state Department of Natural Resources. "The fear is seeing their young in the lake. If that happens, we're in trouble."


The northern snakehead can grow to more than 3 feet long and has large teeth and a voracious appetite for other fish. It is usually imported for food or aquariums.


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Scientists call it a "frankenfish" for its ability to survive in oxygen-depleted water, move from pond to pond, and devour other fish.


Chicago imposed a ban on northern snakeheads two years ago after an angler discovered one in Maryland. The fish have also been spotted in Philadelphia and Wisconsin.


Source: Associated Press


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