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April 17, 2012

The Rise of the Frankenfish

What would happen if a new, destructive species turned up one day in your backyard? What if that species was a major predator with an insatiable appetite that could survive in some of the world's harshest environments? And what if it was thought that this aggressive species could travel over land and through water?

Perhaps there would be attempts to eliminate this species for the greater ecological good. It's also likely that the story would be reported in frenzied tones and sensational movies would be made about the incident.

All of this and more happened when a Northern Snakehead, colloquially dubbed the Frankenfish, was found in a pond in Crofton, Maryland in 2002. The fish, which is native to China, Russia, North Korea and South Korea, was introduced to the pond after being purchased at a live fish market in New York. Predictably, the incident sparked international conversation about the nature of, and response to, invasive species in North America.

However, despite the horror stories, the Northern Snakehead has not yet had major ecological impacts on the continent. Is there truly cause for concern? Join Nick Lapointe, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology, for a discussion on the uncertain effects of the fish in North America.

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