Huntsville, AL, US of A
>From: "Bob Bock" <bockhouse_at_earthlink.net>
>Subject: NANFA-- snakehead commentary
>Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2002 18:27:15 -0400
>Hi, All. My two cents on the snakehead release, from the Baltimore Sun.
>Carelessness exposes native species to alien invasion
>By Bob Bock
>Originally published July 14, 2002
>ASMALL Crofton pond is ground zero for a biological invasion that could be
>disastrous. Someone dumped into the pond a nasty fish that eats everything
>in sight -- fish, frogs and even birds.
>The fish, the northern snakehead, can slither over land to other bodies of
>water and, unchecked by the predators of its native waters in China, might
>cause the extinction of a number of local species.
>A Maryland resident dumped two northern snakeheads into the pond more than
>two years ago because they no longer were wanted as pets, Department of
>Natural Resources police said.
>The Sun reported July 3 that Walter Courtenay of the U.S. Geological Survey
>may seek a federal ban on importing the snakehead into this country. A ban
>is a good idea and would help to protect our aquatic life from the
>carelessness of a few people.
>But a ban won't solve the larger problem we face.
>Along with pollution and habitat loss, alien species -- those that people
>transplant from one location to another -- pose a threat to the plants and
>animals found naturally in North America. Alien species have caused
>environmental disasters everywhere they have been introduced to new homes.
>For example, zebra mussels multiply uncontrollably, scouring waters of
>microorganisms that feed the young of sport fish.
>Another example was available at the Crofton pond.
>While trying to net baby snakeheads, I came across some bluespotted
>These beautiful, delicate creatures don't grow much larger than a silver
>dollar. Male bluespots have fluorescent blue spots and build nests to tend
>their young. These could be the last surviving bluespots from that pond. If
>the snakeheads don't eat them, it's possible they may be eradicated by
>attempts to remove the snakeheads.
>Anglers can do their part by not moving fish from one body of water to
>another. Transplanted largemouth bass have nearly eliminated many fish
>native to the desert springs of the United States and pushed others into
>A well-meaning act like releasing bait fish after a day's fishing may also
>have dire consequences.
>Red shiners liberated from bait buckets into the Colorado River carried
>them a parasitic tapeworm. The tapeworm spread to the woundfin, a native
>minnow. Not as resistant to the tapeworm as were the shiners, the woundfin
>suffered a rapid decline from which they have barely recovered.
>Likewise, home aquarists should never release their pets once they grow
>tired of them. The Everglades is now full of tropical fish that escaped
>the aquarium trade. The tropical invaders prey on some local species and
>compete with others for food and territory.
>Whether a species has economic value or is simply worthy of our
>appreciation, we'll never gain any benefit from it once it's gone.
>But carelessness is something all of us can avoid by never releasing
>plants and animals into the wild.
>Bob Bock is past president and a current board member of the North American
>Native Fishes Association. He lives in Silver Spring.
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