The Saturday Strangeness

By NeilA Last edited 182 months ago

Last Updated 28 March 2009

The Saturday Strangeness

Catfish 101. Why did the catfish cross the road?

If recent stirrings are anything to go by, then the invasion of snakehead fish into British waters could prove tragic. This Asian predator has such a voracious appetite that anything brave enough to get in its way will be mincemeat. In fact, so many alien species of fish are making their way into the rivers, lakes and streams of the UK that angler's tales of 'monster fish' that got away could soon become a reality instead of hazy yarn.

Take for instance the story of the walking catfish. Its Latin name is Clarias batrachus, and although not as powerful or aggressive as the snakehead, such whiskered beasts seem to making their way not only into our waterways, but our back gardens!

Angler Birol Koca was fishing on a lower tidal stretch of the River Thames at Woolwich recently, when he discovered an unusual, dead fish. Wisely, the man did not grasp the fish and pretend to his fishing buddies that he'd caught the critter, but instead contacted the Environment Agency. The fish was recognised as a non-native creature, able to walk across land by way of movement of its strong pectoral spines and a shuffling motion of its body. The lungs are able to function on land, so such catfish could end up anywhere!

The major concerns of course are that if such fish are being introduced illegally into rivers, after being unwanted as pets, then the future for native species looks grim. So, the next time you're driving near the Thames, before you pull out, look left, look right, and make sure there aren't any catfish coming the other way!

Photo by OiMax on flickr