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'Frankenfish' Rears Ugly Head in Maryland, Again

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Maryland state workers plan to drain a suburban lake after the discovery of the same voracious, "walking" fish that two years ago prompted them to poison a smaller body of water, officials said on Thursday.
In what some locals are calling the "return of Frankenfish," a northern snakehead fish -- a top predator in China known for its voracious non-stop appetite and ability to "walk" on land using its fins -- was pulled this week from a lake near Washington. Workers dumped 100 gallons of poison into a Maryland pond in 2002 in a bid to eradicate a colony of snakeheads, which are capable of devouring all native species. There are concerns that if left unchecked, the fish could upset the local eco-system.


Marion Joyce, community relations manager for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, said crews could begin pumping Pine Lake as soon as Thursday if state and federal officials approve.


Workers earlier this week sent electric shocks through the 5-acre lake in an effort to stun fish to the surface, but the procedure did not reveal any additional snakeheads. Workers also erected barriers to keep the fish from spreading into nearby waterways.


The northern snakehead eats smaller fish, crustaceans and even frogs or other small amphibians. Females lay as many as 15,000 eggs up to five times per year. Those eggs hatch as little as 28 hours later.


Normally at home in the rivers and lakes of Asia where they are a delicacy, snakeheads found their way to Maryland several years ago when a local resident bought the fish from a live seafood market in New York to make soup for a sick relative.


The soup was never made and the man dumped the fish into the Crofton pond, where they bred rapidly. About 100 baby snakeheads were later found in the pond.