GEORGIA (WRBL) – The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is warning of an invasive species of fish that has made its way into Georgia waters. Officials say in early October, an angler reported catching a northern snakehead fish in a pond on private property in Gwinnett County.
The northern snakehead is a long, thin fish, similar in appearance to the native bowfin, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. They are described as having a long dorsal fin that runs along their whole back, and a dark brown blotchy appearance.
The northern snakehead is native to the Yangtze River basin in China. However, it has been reported in 14 states in the United States. Experts say the fish can grow up to three feet long. They can also breathe air allowing them to survive on land and in low oxygenated systems.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources warns northern snakeheads have the potential to impact native species in introduced areas by competing for food and habitat. There are some ways to combat the problem:
- Learn how to identify northern snakehead.
- Dispose of aquarium animals and plants in the garbage, not in waterbodies.
- Dispose of all bait in trash cans, at disposal stations, or above the waterline on dry land.
- Dump water from boat compartments, bait buckets, and live wells on dry land.
Experts say Anglers are the first line of defense. If you think you’ve caught a northern snakehead:
- Do not release it.
- Kill it immediately and freeze it. They can survive on land.
- If possible, take pictures of the fish. Include close ups of its mouth, fins and tail.
- Note where it was caught like the waterbody, landmarks or GPS coordinates.
- Immediately report it to your regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office.