Alligator garfish invade Asia

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Alligator Gar (Photo Courtesy of TPWD)

In one of the strangest wildlife stories to come along in a long time, an alligator garfish has been caught in Myanmar (Burma) in Southeast Asia. From Myanmar Eleven news service….

The alligator gar, a freshwater species native to North America, was caught by a local fisherman near the Wartayar jetty on the Hlaing River near Yangon. The fisherman sold his prize for Ks 10,000 (US$ 10) and it was resold to Nyi Min Htut for Ks 50,000 (US$ 50).

“When I arrived at home, I found that the fish scales are very hard. So, I brought a fish to the Fisheries Enterprise because I have never seen a fish like this before,” said Nyi Min Htut.

Win Kyaing, General Secretary of Myanmar Fisheries Federation, correctly identified the fish because of the dual row of large teeth in the upper jaw which, along with the elongated snout, resemble an alligator.

Illustration courtesy Wiki Commons

A few years ago a writer at Sportfishing Asia wrote that he found alligator garfish in aquarium fish stores in Thailand and that they were starting to enter the pet trade in other parts of the continent. Perhaps this catch represents pets flushed down the toilet when they grew too large for their tanks.

Alligator garfish have relatively slow growth rates but the specimen caught in Myanmar was only two feet, nine inches long so it could definitely be a remnant from the pet trade.

The waters in the region are perfect for the species and they could certainly spread if left unchecked. The species is on the decline in the United States.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if they increased in Asia at the same time we’re trying to save them here and while we are dealing with the pesky Asian carp?

Chester Moore, Jr.


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