Slither over, Burmese pythons — Florida’s next invasive carnivore could be a 10-foot monster fish that can leap out of the water and eat small mammals.
“I can’t imagine it’s good for our ecosystem,” Josh Constantine, a charter fishing captain, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel of the arapaima, an Amazon River predator that can weigh hundreds of pounds.
As the Sunshine State continues to battle a scourge of pythons, a dead arapaima washed ashore recently in Cape Coral’s Jaycee Park, on the bank of the Caloosahatchee River, which runs from Lake Okeechobee west to the Gulf of Mexico, the Sentinel said.
Arapaima are one of world’s largest predatory fish, with scales said to be as impenetrable as armor, the paper claims.
And it is an avid breeder, producing hundreds of thousands of eggs during its lifetime.
Should it gain a fin-hold, as the invasive lionfish has done in Florida, it could bite into local commercial fishing stocks, experts warn.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed the arapaima’s appearance but insisted that it’s, well, a fluke.
“There is no evidence that arapaima have reproduced in the wild in Florida,” the FWC told the Sentinel.
At least not yet — but we should all watch and wait, warned Dr. Katherine Galloway, a biologist at Nicholls State University.
This one specimen that washed up in Cape Coral was large enough to be reproductively active, so “there is likely more in Florida,” she told the paper.