Sunday, October 16, 2011

Snakehead Sampling

Wow, it's been a while since we've posted.  We've got a lot to catch up on, so we'll start with a post about our adventures with one of the more famous invasive species, the northern snakehead (Channa argus).  These fish are a popular food fish in their native range of eastern Asia.  Though we hate to villify a species, these fish can seem pretty nasty outside of their home range.  Snakeheads have plenty of teeth, can breathe air through an accessory lung and persist out of water for up to four days, and are very aggressive about guarding their nests from other predators.  So understandably, a lot of people are concerned about their introduction and the impacts they might have on native fishes.

At the end of September, we dashed over to Arkansas to collect snakeheads for a few exhibits.  They've been introduced into two counties in central Arkansas, and we spent a lot of time seining muddy-bottomed agricultural ditches like these:

While the collecting was hard work (and the mosquitoes ate well!), we did manage to find a nice scaly toothy critter for our new exhibit on invasive species for the Aquarium.
It wasn't all scales, though.  We found a nice little green tree frog (Hyla cinerea) at one of our collecting sites who wasn't too unhappy to pose for photos.
Stop by the Aquarium in December to check out our new invasive species exhibit!

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