Saturday, June 09, 2012

Catching the Snakehead

The big news yesterday was the catching of the ferocious top predator, the Snakehead fish. Since putting the video more than three weeks ago, on Youtube about this invasive "Frankenfish," many in the lower mainland have expressed fears of how this fish can potentially decimate the entire fish population in Burnaby lake. If this fish breeds and swims to rivers and other parts of the water channels, it will wreak havoc on the entire ecosystem, not just the precious salmon population. For nearly 27 days, park officials, researchers, and volunteers, comb the entire lake (or some say lagoon), using nets, partially draining the lake, to catch this elusive fish. At one point, many have said the video was a hoax. Yesterday proved that it is an authentic video. There is really a snakehead on the loose. It has been captured. Here's the proof.

Captured 8 June 2012, (Photo Credit:

Deemed a top predator in North America, this foreign fish from Asia and Africa, eats up literally anything smaller than itself. When in their natural habitats, the alligators, crocodiles, sharks, and bigger fishes, can easily gobble them up. Unfortunately, in North America, snakeheads reign supreme, which is why park officials and environmentalists are especially concerned. The only way this fish ever existed in the lake is due to irresponsible individuals releasing them illegally. Popular among some Asians, the snakehead fish is a delicacy, often sold in local Asian supermarkets. For some reason, someone has decided to buy it alive as a pet, and then release it in a public park.

I believe this incident has taught us how fragile our ecosystem is. Mess with it and we are in for big trouble. It is time to call for a ban on any live imports of such fish. The only good snakehead fish in North America is a dead one.  I love my salmon.

Three lessons from this Snakehead saga

Firstly, I marvel at the power of social media. Put on Youtube, the social media spreads the news far and wide. This is an excellent example of how social media can be used for good. Thankfully, the response from the authorities is quick.

Secondly, catching the fish needs teamwork. This also means leadership. I believe the BC authorities have learned a lesson from their counterparts in Maryland down South. They have had a devastating experience with the Snakehead on the loose. It was so bad that they had to kill everything in the waters just to rid the snakehead. Even then, there is no guarantee they have eradicated the problem completely. Leadership comes from being humble to learn from others, be open to consider appropriately the facts brought to attention, and then to do something about it. Thankfully, this fish was caught even after adopting a host of methods and patience to catch it. Sometimes I wonder, if the fish is smart enough to evade capture for another month, perhaps, it can slip away unnoticed?

Finally, things brought to attention normally get the most attention. Left untouched, unreported, it will simply be left alone to do the damage while we are all sleeping. This snakehead is a dangerous fish and rightfully it needs to be captured urgently. What about sin in us? Do we need to bring it to attention? Or are we content to let it fester, uninterrupted, simply because it is hiding under the covers of normalcy?


One snakehead launches a torrent of visitors and officials to the lake. Thanks to the quick action by the authorities, this invasive fish is caught before further damage is done. Bye snakehead. Outgunned, outmanuevered, outplayed, the snakehead has no chance. Lest it has laid eggs.


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