Friday, July 22, 2011


Two invasive snakeheads caught recently in Delaware waterways

DOVER (July 22, 2011) – Northern snakeheads have been caught in two Delaware waterways in recent months, the DNREC Fisheries Section said today. The snakehead is an invasive species that can impact fish, amphibians and invertebrate populations due to their predatory nature, competition for food resources and alteration of established food webs. According to research by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, northern snakeheads and largemouth bass have similar food and habitat patterns, and bass numbers increased as snakeheads were removed from shared waterways.

Last week, an angler caught a 24-inch fish in the Marshyhope Creek near the Route 404 bridge. Last fall, DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries staff collected a 26-inch long snakehead during electrofishing efforts in Broad Creek just downstream of Laurel. Both fish were adults, weighing between four and six pounds. Both waterways are tributaries of the Nanticoke River, a very popular largemouth bass fishery in Delaware.

“We are concerned about possible adverse impacts to largemouth bass in this important watershed if snakeheads become established,” said Fisheries Biologist Catherine Martin.

Northern snakeheads live in fresh and low salinity waters, generally preferring weedy locations. They are long slender fish with long anal fins reaching from mid-body to the tail. The pelvic fins on the belly and pectoral fins behind the gills are very close together. The dorsal fin on the back runs from the back of the head to the tail. The mouth is large and has sharp teeth. Coloration is generally tan with dark brown blotchy bands. Federal law prohibits import and transport of live snakeheads.

The Fisheries Section asks that any possible snakehead catches in Delaware waters be reported by calling 302-739-9914. Photos may be sent to Snakeheads should not be released back into the water but should be killed or frozen.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is sponsoring a contest for anglers who send a photo of a dead snakehead with location of catch, date and angler’s contact information. Each report will be entered into a raffle with prizes awarded at the end of 2011. Any snakehead taken in Maryland or Delaware waters tributary to the Chesapeake Bay is eligible for the contest. For more information, visit

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