Chinese Northern Snakehead Fish Push Into Upper Potomac River

By on July 29, 2015

Highly invasive Chinese northern snakehead fish have been found in the Upper Potomac River, according to a report from the CBS TV affiliate in Baltimore. Snakeheads have been found in the Potomac near Washington, D.C., since 2004, but have only just recently made it past a barrier to stake a claim in the river’s upper reaches.

Fisheries biologists studying the development say that there isn’t much that can be done now that the snakeheads have made it past the C&O Canal. The best hope for keeping their numbers down could be anglers who catch them, they say.

“They’re absolutely not going anywhere,” said Joseph Love, an official with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, to the TV station. “If I’ve learned anything from working with snakeheads, once you’ve seen them in your waterway, they’re likely going to be there for a long time, if not forever.”

Snakeheads have gills, but are known for their ability to breathe air above water through a membrane. That and other characteristics have helped them to become top predators in many of the ecosystems they’ve invaded.

Northern snakehead. (Credit: Brian Gratwicke/CC BY 2.0)

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