08 July 2009

The Story of Snakeheads aka FrankenFish

From Denny: This is such a good article from Country Roads Magazine I just had to share it with you. It's about those bizarre snakehead fish we keep hearing about in the news. There was a lot of description, information and first-hand experience with this weirdo fish that might end up required reading for everyone across America as this greedy destructive fish invades our waterways. The folks over at Country Roads Magazine out of St. Francisville, Louisiana, write in an entertaining manner that is an easy read along with the information.

Here's an excerpt:

The Story of Snakeheads

by Lucile Bayon Hume @ Country Roads Magazine

"This time, Satan swims instead of slithers.

"Snakehead fish may be coming to a lake, pond, puddle, river, stream or creek near you. Go ahead, scream. I began checking into these invaders after a perfect weekend of fly fishing on the Little Red River in Arkansas with Philip, my boy turned pro fishing guide who practices catch and release and has the utmost respect and affection for the trout whose habits he’s studied. Heading home, we heard via radio that snakeheads, the topic of fishy horror stories, were found in a creek in Arkansas. OMG, were our beautiful fish the color of the rainbow in jeopardy along with other native fish? I should’ve saved this topic for Halloween. It’s a scary one. Incidentally, a snakehead costume would be way more original and spooky than has-been standards like witches, devils, goblins and psychotic Freddy Kruger.

"Snakeheads, nicknamed “Frankenfish” by media, are ecological terrorists and ugly monsters with cavernously big mouths packed with oversized razor sharp teeth that can cut prey in half, a slimy mucus coating (yech!) on their blotched brown or greenish cylindrical bodies, enlarged scales on their heads and eyes set unusually forward in the same position as old snake eyes. No, this isn’t just another pretty little fish face.

"And snakehead capabilities that send up red flags are its ability to breathe using air sacs so it can exist as a fish out of water, and, get this—some species can “walk” by flip flopping and wriggling across muddy terrain to take a stroll of sorts from location to location, which makes the slippery varmints hard to confine.

"There’s not much redeeming about them. Mr. S.H. is a nasty character who hits hard and eats prey in one gulp. There’s a horrifying YouTube video of a poor dumb bass dumped in a tank with a snakehead who strikes viciously over and over until the bass goes belly up then into the snakehead’s belly. Our villain’s hungry and can swallow prey (fish, frogs, water birds, small mammals, possibly pets) as large as he is without batting a fish eye.

"One observer calls him “a belly with fins.” And temperament is at best peevish, particularly when parents guard nests of their young. One story tells of a snared snakehead lunging and leaving tooth marks in steel-toed boots, though there’s skepticism among some who say the Northern snakehead, our most prevalent species, doesn’t attack humans as the Giant snakehead does. Thanks, I’ll still keep my distance.

"But the real Frankenfish nightmare is his potential to upset the ecological applecart if he moves in with slimy luggage and embodies the old saying about the smell of guests who overstay. In waters inhabited by our native fishes, his appetite is unleashed on them, plus he takes over the real estate, displacing the locals, particularly if there’s a pair of interlopers reproducing in staggering numbers. He also carries parasites and diseases lethal to our fish.

"Having no natural predators puts him at the top of the food chain and lands our American fish in a position lower on the eco-totem pole, endangered in their own natural habitats. The ultimate illegal alien is indeed both an alien creature and illegal to import or transport live across state lines because of the threat authorities believe he poses to our native fish, to their aquatic systems, to the balance of nature and to the fishing industry, including recreational fishing.

"As it stands now, the fish can be imported frozen, i.e. dead. The intruder is native to Asia and Africa and has been purposefully introduced to various areas including the Philippines and Hawaii as a food source. U.S. fish markets profitably sell them, now only frozen, i.e. dead. Snakeheads are reputed to be a delicacy when smoked, dried, grilled, fried, or cooked with noodles or in watercress soup. Some Chinese believe it helps heal wounds and keeps human skin supple, soft, young. Pass the snakehead, please."

For the rest of this funny yet informative article, just click on the title link!

Here's a National Geographic video on the Snakehead:

Snakeheads United States America catch and release outdoors recreation fishing fly fishing food source

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