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Northern snakehead run draws curious anglers to Potomac
...Sunday was, in the Potomac River's increasingly bizarre snakehead history, a landmark day. And it was something Mark Hammond, in three decades of fishing the Potomac tributary near Fort Belvoir, never dreamed he would see.
"They're in there by the thousands. You could see them literally coming up along the banks. The ones we caught didn't even put a dent in them," said Hammond, 43, an avid bass fisherman from Florida living here temporarily. "We would throw one in the cooler, two others would jump out and we'd have to chase them through the woods."
Since last year's discovery that the voracious, nonnative northern snakehead had infiltrated the Potomac River and its tributaries, fishermen have pulled them up in ones and twos, each catch a major event that further solidified the proof of an entrenched and breeding population.
In the first half of this year, about 15 snakeheads were caught in the Potomac and its tributaries, including several in Dogue Creek, but nothing has matched the haul Sunday and Monday of at least 80. Its cause isn't yet clear...
The northern snakehead, native to China and Korea, first appeared in the area in 2002, when it was discovered in a pond in Crofton, Md. Authorities found six adults and 1,000 juveniles when the pond was poisoned. Last year came what fisheries experts say is a more disturbing development, when more snakeheads--with no genetic connection to the Crofton fish--were found in the Potomac, worrying scientists that the breeding population could throw the ecosystem out of balance...
Originally posted by Valhall
Oh my gawd. This is such bad news.
Originally posted by skychief
Man, those fish will just systematically destroy all native species in and around the Potomac. We need to quickly find a way to deal with this problem or it seems that they will continue spreading into other areas.
Originally posted by Valhall
Yes I do - but I think my new one says all there needs to be said about that dealio.
About like the snakeheads really - resistance is futile. So will these snakeheads eat ALL of the indigenous fish in the river! And can they swim up stream?
Questions and Answers about the Snakehead Fish
Northern snakehead fish, which are common in the aquaria industry and also sold live in some Asian fish markets, are one of 28 species of snakeheads native to Asia and Africa. They can grow to more than 3 feet long and exceed weights of 15 pounds. They are aggressive predators that feed opportunistically on amphibians, fish, aquatic birds, and, on occasion, small mammals. Of greater concern is the snakehead fish's ability to survive in waters with low dissolved oxygen and to travel across land. When looking for more suitable habitat, snakehead fish have been known to leave poor quality waters and survive out of water for three to four days in search of other bodies of water.
Originally posted by loam
Valhall: These things can walk across land- literally. I'm not joking. They can live out of water for a very significant period of time!
Originally posted by Valhall
Man, I had forgotten that part. Okay, here's the plan. We have to put bait out on the banks of the river and then club 'em to death when they come out to eat. It's the only solution. They need to have "snakehead clubbin' days". Serve hotdogs and cold beer and just let people get after it.
Adverse impacts on threatened and endangered species would likely be high. Of all the taxa listed as endangered or threatened in U.S. aquatic habitats, 16 amphibians, 115 fishes, and 5 of the 21 crustaceans (surface dwelling crayfish and shrimp), would be the most likely to be affected. Based on habitat requirements and life history, amphibians and surface dwelling crustaceans would generally be less likely to be affected by introduced snakeheads than would fishes. The possibility of a nonindigenous predator in the aquatic community with any listed amphibian or crustacean would constitute a threat.
Likelihood and magnitude of the effect on designated critical habitats of threatened or endangered species would be significant on the living component of the aquatic ecosystem. Depending on the habitat, snakeheads have the potential to detrimentally alter aquatic communities. The most likely scenario would be an alteration of the fish and crustacean community structure through predation. For listed fishes there could be competition for food in addition to direct predation. Like amphibians, fishes and crustaceans listed as threatened or endangered species, candidate taxa of these three groups or aquatic organisms would likewise be at risk.
Introduction of a small number of snakeheads (for example, less than five) into isolated spring habitats could result in extinction of endemic spring-adapted fishes or crustaceans. Introductions of fishes considered to be far less aggressive than snakeheads (that is, guppies, Poecilia reticulata) in such habitats have had major negative impacts (Courtenay and others, 1985). Snakeheads would not have to establish a reproducing population to reduce or eliminate a fish or crustacean species confined to a small section of a stream or isolated spring habitat. A small number of snakeheads introduced, but not established, in a stream or lake would likely have less of an impact. Nevertheless, any snakehead that becomes established in a water body would represent a significant threat and could potentially put any listed amphibian, fish, or crustacean at risk of local extinction.