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Thread: Snakeheads posing no threat

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Default Snakeheads posing no threat

    Snakeheads posing no threat

    Non-native species good for eating

    Susan Cocking - The Miami Herald

    MIAMI -- Marty Arostegui forked a white fillet from his plate, dipped it in sweet Thai chili sauce and took a bite.

    "One of the finest fish I've had," Arostegui, a retired physician, said.
    Arostegui, who has caught and eaten seafood delicacies everywhere from Suriname to Thailand, had bagged this dinner the previous day in a narrow, muddy weed-lined canal that runs along a busy highway in North Lauderdale, Fla. He served it to his family and three guests in his elegant dining room, along with white rice and salad. Everyone pronounced the entree delicious.

    It was a 4 1/2-pound snakehead -- a slimy, ugly freshwater fish native to Asia that has been the scourge of fisheries managers from Florida to New York to Arkansas for the past eight years.
    Despite the poisoning and draining of ponds in northeastern states and the making of possession of the live exotics a criminal offense, snakehead populations are slowly spreading from water bodies, where it is believed they were deliberately released.

    Paul Shafland, who heads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's nonnative fish lab in Boca Raton, said the bullseye snakehead -- the only one of 25 snakehead species detected in Florida -- is found mostly in north Broward County's C-14 system.
    But the dark-hued fish with the orange eye spot on its tail has spread to southern Palm Beach County, and there have been a couple of unconfirmed sightings in the Miami-Dade County area.
    "The fish is here. I wish it wasn't here," Shafland said. "If we could eliminate them, we would. If you catch them, eat them. Don't release them."

    But so far, the pesky exotic hasn't turned into the environmental disaster that some predicted.
    Early results from the FWC's most recent electrofishing study in the C-14 (stunning fish with a mild electrical charge so they can be examined) shows that although snakeheads are abundant, they are not destroying populations of largemouth and peacock bass -- the two main gamefish species in South Florida lakes and canals.
    FWC scientists using the marine version of electric cattle prods caught as many as 1.58 snakeheads per minute weighing up to 9.2 pounds.
    Examining the stomach contents of 127 dead snakeheads, they found the remains of 13 of their own species plus one bluegill, 11 mosquitofish, seven warmouth, two peacock bass, several lizards, bufo toads, small turtles, a rat and a snake. No remains of largemouth bass were found.

    Looking at 68 peacock bass' stomachs, the researchers found 16 snakeheads. In 41 largemouth bass, they found one.
    "They seem to be complementary predators," Shafland said, referring to snakeheads versus peacocks and largemouth. "We don't see one dominating the others. I think they're all pretty much holding their own."

    Arostegui agrees. An avid snakehead fisherman, he and son Martini, 16, have caught several world records on light line and fly tackle with Hollywood guide Alan Zaremba. Most were caught in an area of the C-14 the two men have dubbed the "Snake Pit."
    "We see in the water a lot of Mayans [cichlids], tilapia, bass," Arostegui said. "Even though the snakeheads are there in quantity, they're not decimating everything."
    On a recent Sunday excursion to a canal, Zaremba and a guest caught seven snakeheads up to 4 1/2 pounds and lost at least that many more using plastic frog lures retrieved on the surface along the banks.

    Zaremba said the bite was unusually good, probably because the fish had recently completed spawning and had ceased guarding their young.
    "There's some over 10 pounds in here. It's just a matter of finding them," he said. "They like to ambush baits. They hang under trees, ledges and wads of grass."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    ok you can eat all you want, I wouldn't eat them.

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