(TMU) — Wildlife officials in Georgia are issuing a blunt message to anglers: if you come in contact with a certain invasive fish species that has suddenly appeared in the state, be sure to kill it immediately.
The fish in question is the northern snakehead fish, which can breathe on air and survive for days on dry land.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is sounding the alarm on the fish after an angler reportedly caught one in a private pond in Gwinnett County.
The Wildlife Resources Division of the agency is confused as to how the snakehead, which has never before been seen in the state, has suddenly come to exist in Georgian waters, NBC reports.
If you find a northern snakehead in Georgia, kill it immediately and contact a DNR Regional Office. https://t.co/dbxWM0gaZQ
— Georgia DNR Wildlife (@GeorgiaWild) October 10, 2019
In a press release, the department describes the snakehead as a long, thin fish with a long dorsal fin along its back and a brown, blotchy appearance. The fish can grow to up to three feet in length and is capable of living on land, breathing air, and surviving in low oxygenated systems. They are usually found in freshwater.
The non-native invasive species is native to the Yangtze River basin in China, but has also been reported in 14 states throughout the United States. For some time, snakeheads were sold in pet stores and live food fish markets, as well as in restaurants, in various major U.S. cities. In 2002, they were added to the list of injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act in 2002.
The Lacey Act lists at least 726 species as “injurious,” including zebra mussels, Burmese python, and numerous species of salmon and salamander. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), injurious species “have been determined to be injurious to the health and welfare of humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture or forestry, and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources of the U.S.”
While the 6,500 invasive species listed by the FWS have done at least 100 billion dollars of damage through decimation of crops, transmission of diseases, and the damaging of fisheries’ catches, the vast majority of them are not considered injurious.
The United States Geological Survey also said that some snakeheads were even released by hobbyists or religious groups who practice “prayer animal release,” an activity whereby individuals purchase animals and then release them “to earn merits with a deity.”
While human beings have little to fear if they encounter the creatures, the snakeheads are extremely detrimental to native species.
In certain conditions, female snakeheads can lay up to 50,000 eggs that can hatch within one or two days. This ability to reproduce fast makes them vicious competitors for food as top predators, and conservationists fear that they can displace myriad native species while doing damage to the fishing industry.
Species are considered invasive when they manage to move into ecosystems that haven’t evolved to control them. Once they gain a foothold in those territories, other species endemic to the region often have little chance to fend for themselves.
Officials are advising anglers who catch the fish to kill them through freezing, take pictures of the fish—including close-up shots of the mouth, fin and tails—and report where it was caught to a regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office.
As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists
The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.
However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.
While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.
The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.
The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes – but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.
“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.
To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.
However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.
These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.
The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.
Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever
Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.
Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.
In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.
At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.
“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.
“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”
The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.
Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.
‘Horrific’ Swarms of Spiders, Snakes Invade Australian Homes Amid Devastating Floods
In recent years, Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) has faced everything from drought to brushfires, a pandemic, a recent all-consuming plague of mice and now, devastating floods and massive hordes of spiders.
In videos shared across social media, hundreds if not thousands of spiders can be seen scrambling through people’s homes and garages prior to an evacuation order being issued on early Saturday in expectation of the floods.
In one video posted to Facebook by Melanie Williams, the arachnids of all sizes can be seen scrambling about in search of shelter from the coming deluge.
“Check these spiders out, oh my god, oh my god! Look at them all,” Williams said in the video. “No! No! Oh my god.”
The Guardian reports that Kinchela resident Matt Lovenfosse was pulling up to his home on Monday morning when he witnessed what appeared to be a sea of “millions” of spiders climbing about to escape the floodwaters.
“So I went out to have a look and it was millions of spiders,” Lovenfosse said.
“It’s amazing. It’s crazy,” he continued. “The spiders all crawled up on to the house, on to fences and whatever they can get on to.”
The flooding has resulted in some 18,000 residents fleeing their homes since last week, with authorities warning that the cleanup could last until April.
The floods have also seen thousands of snakes and insects of every kind scrambling to flee from the floods, with some snakes even leaping into rescue boats to avoid being drowned.
“There were also skinks, ants, basically every insect, crickets – all just trying to get away from the flood waters,” vistor Shenae Varley told Guardian Australia.
It’s just the latest reminder that Australia isn’t just another country – it may be its own entirely different world.
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