A mature, egg-bearing northern snakehead has been discovered by scientists in a river just south of Annapolis, MD. The toothy and aggressive fish is a native of Asia, and believed to be rapidly breeding. It was first discovered and quickly eradicated in a pond back in 2002, only to be found in Potomac River tributaries in Maryland and Virginia two years later. National Geographic on the ferocious species:
When the 23-inch creature was found by biologists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center surveying the Rhode River last Thursday, immediate concerns were raised on the possibility that low salinity in the Chesapeake Bay this year may has allowed the invasive fish to escape from the Potomac River. From the Baltimore Sun:
"Scientists have long believed that the salinity of the bay would keep snakeheads bottled up in the Potomac River. But last year, watermen found them in St. Jerome Creek, past Point Lookout on the bay side.
Finding this fish, said Havard, 'was very disconcerting, especially when we found it was an egg-bearing female. I think there's concern across the board.'"
The snakehead is a predator that can overwhelm the habitat and push out local fish. Scientists believe that near-record levels of runoff into the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay this year may have given the fish a path to infest other bodies of water. Congress has already initiated "The Northern Snakehead Control and Management Plan," after members become alarmed by the "potential impact on native fish populations," that snakeheads found in Maryland and six different states across the country could have.
Not all locals have frowned on the new fish, as one chef experiments if the snakehead could find its way on menus next to crab cakes as a Maryland specialty.