According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division, a northern snakehead fish was found earlier this month in a Gwinnett County Pond. It is the first time the species has been reported in Georgia waters according to the reports. The department is trying to identify if the fish has spread from the pond as it looks to prevent the species from reaching other bodies of water in Georgia. According to a survey conducted by U.S. Geological Survey, the thin, long fish looks very similar to a bowfin and is dangerous to wildlife because it can out-compete or displace other species in the water. As per the survey, if the unique species produce more offsprings, it could disturb the food webs and create an imbalance to the ecological systems that could leave a permanent change to other species in water bodies. The northern snakehead fish is a native to East Asia and is sold in pet-stores, live-food fish markets, and restaurants in some major cities before 2002 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the species to its list of injurious wildlife.
According to a database, the sharp-toothed fish was first spotted in the US in San Bernardino County's Silverwood Lake in California in 1997. The fish has also been found in 14 other states, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division. According to the Georgia wildlife authorities, it's illegal to import, transport, sell, transfer, and have any species of snakehead without a valid wildlife license in Georgia.
Maryland had the first established population of the fish in 2002, and the state has the biggest distribution of northern snakeheads, as indicated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The air-breathing fish are able to survive in the land as they have an air ladder very similar to the lungs. Their breathing ability makes it possible for them to navigate to other small areas of land and new water bodies. The unique fish can survive up to four days out of the water if it is kept moist. According to reports, it can remain immobile and alive in mud during drought. The fish can grow up to 3 feet and can weigh as much as 18 pounds or more. The snakehead fish feeds on other fish and it has been reported that it even feeds on amphibians, crawfish, and even small animals such as mice. According to a detailed study, the fish could also make a nutrient-packed meal. The wildlife officials have requested piscators to identity, kill, and photograph the fish and report their catch to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries office.
(with agency inputs)