Florida’s Everglade’s National Park has faced an invasion from giant pythons that prey on nearly any animal, big and small. But according to park biologist Dave Hallac, the problems caused by the spread of pythons pale in comparison to the proliferation of exotic fish species in the Everglades.
Walking catfish, African jewelfish, and around fourteen other species have been found in the Everglade freshwater marshes. The catfish began invading the everglades long before pythons entered the scene, with reports beginning back in the ’60s.
”In some ways it’s a form of pollution,” said biologist Jeff Kline.
Scientists worry that the invasive tropical fish will compete for food with such native species as shellcrackers and mosquitofish, but some carnivorous fish could even begin preying on the natives.
”This is a problem that is 10 times worse than the python, but it’s all under water, so nobody knows about it,” said Dave Hallac..
But not everyone agrees that it’s such a big problem. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission director Paul Shafland said the fish will be innocuous 99.9% of the time, but that the .1% risk could still be potentially disastrous.
”They could create a serious problem somehow, somewhere,” said Shafland. “I believe the aquatic ecosystem is far more resilient and resistant to disturbance than probably people in the park do.”Photo Credit: heartajack on Flickr under Creative Commons license.