Ring. Ring. I know what that fish is.
Everyone seems to have a theory about the identity of the unknown fish featured in a Page One story in Wednesday’s Standard-Examiner. It was found with thousands of other dead fish near Pioneer Park pond in Brigham City. The majority of feedback from the public is that it may be a snakehead fish.
Snakehead fish made headlines when they were discovered in a pond in Maryland. The state contained the species in the pond where it was found, but fishermen have caught others in the Potomac River in recent years.
Author Eric Jay Dolin wrote about the incident in a book, “Snakehead, A Fish Out of Water.” Dolin said it is possible that the fish found in Brigham City was a northern snakehead which is capable of living in very cold climates. The fish has been found in the U.S. as far north as Maine and they are now an established invasive species in Maryland.
Ben Nadolski, aquatic biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said he spent Wednesday morning fielding phone calls from people who wanted to guess the species of fish and media outlets calling for more information.
The DWR said late Wednesday they have a different idea about the fish.
Aquatics biologist Matt McKell said a snakehead has a dorsal fin that differs from the specimen.
“The specimen is in pretty poor shape,” McKell said. “It doesn’t appear to me that it’s got that kind of configuration for the dorsal fin.”
After taking another look, McKell believes the remains are those of a lake trout. McKell said the prominent teeth seen in the carcass are normally covered by flesh and due to the decay appear larger than they would when the fish was alive.
The Standard-Examiner also received e-mails and phone calls with guesses as to the fish’s origin.
Clay Bass, of Eden, believes it looks like a dogfish or bowfin, which he once caught when he lived in the South.
“I can tell you the boat wasn’t big enough for the two of us. I cut my line rather than risk coming in contact with those teeth,” Bass wrote in an e-mail to the Standard-Examiner.
Drew Cushing, warm water sport fish and community fisheries coordinator for the DWR, said he has also received numerous phone calls. Cushing is “absolutely certain” it is not a snakehead.
“It doesn’t fit the mold,” Cushing said. “It definitely wasn’t a snakehead.”
Cushing believes it could be some sort of a decomposed trout species.
According to aquaticcommunity.com, the northern snakehead is from China and is “highly adapted to surviving in areas exposed to seasonal dry periods.”
The fish has the capability to live in water with very low oxygen content and can use its labyrinth organ to absorb oxygen directly from the air.
The fish also is capable of traveling across land, which matches the original description from Ogden angler Bernie Develin who said he thought the fish appeared to have crawled out of the water on its own. –standard