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18 Jul, 2018 23:37

'Frankenfish' sighting in Pennsylvania could spell disaster for local ecology

'Frankenfish' sighting in Pennsylvania could spell disaster for local ecology

News of a particularly unfriendly species of fish – known colloquially as "frankenfish" – being spotted in a Pennsylvania county has sparked concern among officials that the voracious predators could disrupt the local ecology.

The northern snakehead is an aggressive species that typically eats other fish. Nicknamed the "frankenfish," the invasive species could wreak havoc on the environment if it's allowed to spread, according to a fact sheet on the species authored by the US Geological Survey.

"Should snakeheads become established in North American ecosystems, their predatory behavior could drastically disrupt food webs and ecological conditions, thus forever changing native aquatic systems by modifying the array of native species," the agency wrote of the bloodthirsty fish.

The cannibalistic ecology-wrecker has no lack of scary features. For one, it is said to be able to "walk" on land – although it's actually more like wriggling or snake-like slithering and it mostly does so to get back to water, not to crawl into your house and murder you while you sleep.

The snakehead's young are also believed to start their lives by feeding on their mother, while it's still weak and incapable of hunting.

Snakeheads are survivors, capable of breathing on land for several days and weathering low-oxygen environments. The particular kind now caught in Lancaster County is native to China, Russia and Korea, but snakeheads were imported into the United States in the early 2000s.

"They have teeth, and they are a fish eater. They're an aggressive predator, and they guard their young and so any fish that guards its young usually has a high rate of successful reproduction," Andy Shields, the director for the Bureau of Fisheries with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, told WPMT, a local Fox affiliate. "We don't really know what their effect or impact is in Pennsylvania other than we have them in places where we haven't and people catch them."

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