It can grow up to 40 inches long, breathe for days on land, and is a top-level predator in the waters it inhabits. At a glance, the northern snakehead can be intimidating, especially for conservationists that aim to protect waterways from this invasive species. According to NBC News, scientists fear that somehow the fish have arrived at a New York icon: Central Park.
Soon, Department of Conservation officials will begin a survey of the park’s lakes, including the most likely target, Harlem Meer. The lake occupies the northeast corner of Central Park and recently a number of signs have cropped up, telling local anglers to turn over snakeheads to the department in case any are caught.
“It’s a top predator,” said fisheries manager Melissa Cohen. “It eats other fish and a lot of other things. It also produces a lot of eggs so it has the potential to produce a lot of young.”
While considered a valuable food fish in some places, snakeheads can inflict substantial ecological damage. The species can breed as often as five times per year and a single female can brood up to 75,000 eggs per year. Northern snakeheads colonized the Potomac River several years ago and are proving resilient to methods of removal. An isolated case was found by an angler in Lake Michigan.
Perhaps the snakeheads will get bogged down fighting Asian carp.
Image courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources