Another Snakehead Fish Caught in Potomac River
FORT BELVOIR, VA — The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Maryland Department of Natural Resources today announced that another northern snakehead fish has been caught in the Potomac River.
The fish was caught in Pohick Bay, near Pohick Bay Regional Park and Fort Belvoir Military Installation, generally in the same region as where the previous snakehead fish were caught. The nearly 14½-inch fish, which weighed in at 16.1 ounces, was identified as an immature female approximately two years old. A commercial waterman using a haul seine caught the fish. The Maryland Natural Resources Police took the fish, and a Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologist confirmed it as a northern snakehead.
This catch brings the total number of northern snakehead fish caught in the Potomac River since April 26 to four. Additionally, a single northern snakehead fish was caught in Pine Lake in Wheaton, Maryland on April 26. The rest of the fish have been caught in an eight-mile stretch of the Potomac River. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services are coordinating their efforts to confirm if there is an established population of northern snakehead fish in the Potomac River. Efforts will be focused in the region where the fish are being found.
Northern snakehead fish are an invasive species and a top-tier predator in the ecosystem. If a population were successfully established, it would disrupt the ecosystem in the Potomac River by displacing native fish and competing for habitat. Northern snakeheads live in shallow vegetated waters and do not tolerate saltwater.
Anglers are asked NOT TO RELEASE a suspect fish, but to kill it humanely with a blow to the head and to get it on ice as quickly as possible. Anglers should report their catches to authorities immediately:
Call the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in state, toll-free at 1-800-770-4951. Out-of-state callers reporting snakehead fish caught in Virginia waters should call directly to 804-367-1258.
Call the Maryland Department of Natural Resources at 410-260-8320, or toll-free at 1-877-520-8DNR, ext. 8230.
To view a fact sheet with a photograph of a northern snakehead fish and illustrations of similar-looking native species, anglers are encouraged to visit the following Web sites:
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries www.dgif.virginia.gov
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources www.dnr.maryland.gov/dnrnews/infocus/snakehead.asp
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service http://contaminants.fws.gov
Posted May 28, 2004