MSNBC Environmental officials are planning to survey a Central Park lake this week to search for an invasive type of toothy predator fish that threatens to disrupt the ecosystem. The northern snakehead fish, native to China, Russia and Korea, has been spotted in Queens in recent years, and one was quietly observed in Harlem Meer several years ago. The fish eats frogs and crayfish and has the ability to breathe air and live for days out of water in certain conditions. It is so disruptive that the state prohibits possession, sale and transport of the live fish and its eggs. Signs have recently gone up around the Harlem Meer warning anyone who catches one not to throw it back. The signs warn anglers to “secure the fish” and “keep it in a secure container until it is picked up by officials.” If park officials cannot be found at the boathouse, the sign urges anyone with a snakehead fish to call 311 and report the catch. The sign is “just to let people know that this fish is in there, if you find it please do not return it to the water and it also helps people become aware that there are things in the water that should not be there,” said Melissa Cohen, Department of Environmental Conservation fisheries manager. The man-made lake is located in Central Park’s northeast corner between 106th and 110th streets.
If you have ever watched River Monsters with Jeremy Wade on Animal Planet, you are familiar with the Snakehead. I knew that this invasive species, which has been known to destroy entire ecosystems by becoming the top predator and killing off many of the other native animals, had invaded areas of Florida and the Chesapeake Bay. I did not know that it was warm enough to live in the normally polluted waters of New York City. Snakeheads are some of the toughest fish on the planet, they could probably even survive in the polluted waters of the Gowanus Canal, so they are going to be tough to eradicate. Keep your feet out of the water in NYC this summer, you might lose a toe, in fact you probably want to do that anyway. This water is gross, but now there are also monsters in the water, so it’s a double whammy.