Re: NANFA-- more on snakeheads

Christopher Scharpf (
Sat, 13 Jul 2002 09:05:55 -0400

> My home page featured two news articles about the snakeheads today.
> I wonder why this has captured so much media attention?

In today's infotainment-driven media, the story of the snakehead is just
that, entertainment. Lazy desk editors around the country are picking up the
wire stories and b-roll footage because they have built-in story appeal:
pre-packaged headlines and soundbites about "Frankenfish." There's also a
great amount of biological illiteracy at play. I can't tell you how many
people have asked me simply blown away by the phenomenon of a fish that can
LIVE OUT OF WATER for a few days and WALK ON LAND!

Then there's the name of the fish: snakehead. (If it were called, say, Asian
butterfly pike, the media would care less.)

Here at snakehead ground zero (MD), the snakehead coverage has been non-stop
and frenzied. Considering all the other nuisance species that are causing
real problems right now, the attention the snakehead has been getting is not
all that deserved. But the good thing is, the story's illustrating the
serious problem of evasive aquatic exotics, and, one hopes, sending the
message that aquarium pets should never be released.

One disturbing development, though: One of the local TV news programs
reported yesterday that area fish shops have experienced a run on snakeheads
and are currently sold out. Good grief!

Chris Scharpf
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