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CSI-type study identifies snakehead
Date:11/25/2013

Several Canadian biologists, including two at Simon Fraser University, are breathing a collective sigh of relief after learning that a monstrous fish found in a Burnaby, B.C. pond is not a northern snakehead.

But they say their discovery that the half-metre-long, 3.7-kg snakehead fished out of Burnaby Central Park's lagoon last December was a blotched snakehead, or a blotched/northern hybrid is still a serious concern.

Their findings are in a new study, published online by the Management of Biological Invasions Journal. The authorsSFU, UBC, University of Guelph and B.C. Ministry of Environment scientistscall for greater awareness of the risks of invasion that non-native species, such as snakeheads, pose in our waters.

There are 29 species of the Asian aquatic beast with home ranges in Southeast Asia, Russia and Africa. They are native to subtropical and warm waters. But due to aquaculture rearing and sale of the snakes as pets and medicine, various species have become established in the freshwaters of Hawaii, Florida and the eastern United States.

Last December, a YouTube video of a sighting of what was then feared to be a northern snakehead in a Burnaby pond made international news. It was the first sightingand eventual capture by SFU and B.C. government scientists for analysisof a snakehead in freshwater north of the 49th parallel.

In response to this capture, the B.C.'s environment ministry strengthened legislation so that it banned possession, transport and breeding of all snakeheads, as well as several other potential invasive fish and mussels.

Snakeheads flourish in a variety of environmental conditions, the northern variety in particular adapts to cooler climates. A lung allows them to breathe and move short distances on land for a few days, if they're in a wet environment that keeps them well hydrated.

These factors combined with the pointy-toothed fish's voracious appetite fo
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Contact: Carol Thorbes
cthorbes@sfu.ca
778-782-3035
Simon Fraser University
Source:Eurekalert

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