Invasive fish that can survive on land found in Georgia

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In this May 16, 2012, file photo, Dan Bieniek and Jason Calvert, display six snakehead fish they caught in a canal in Weston, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images, FILE)

The northern snakehead fish, an invasive species that can breathe air and survive on land, has been found in Georgia waters, according to wildlife officials.

Native to the Yangtze River basin in China, the species likely entered Georgia through unauthorized release, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. It has been reported in 14 other states in the U.S.

An angler reported catching two juvenile northern snakeheads earlier this month in a pond on a private property in Gwinnett County, officials said.

PHOTO: The open mouth of a snakehead fish is held up after being caught.
The open mouth of a snakehead fish is held up after being caught.

The long, thin fish is similar in appearance to the bowfin, with a dorsal fin that runs along the entirety of its back and a dark brown, blotchy coloring, according to the department. Snakeheads can grow up to 3 feet in length and survive in low oxygenated systems.

Wildlife officials are concerned about the snakeheads impacting native species by competing for food and habitat, describing them as “bad news.”

The department advised residents who believe they have caught a northern snakehead to “kill it immediately and freeze it” as well as take photos of it and report where it was caught to the Georgia Department of Natural Resource Wildlife Resources Division.

It is against the law to sell, transport transfer or possess any species of snakehead fish without a valid wild animal license, according to the department.

PHOTO: In this May 16, 2012, file photo, a snakehead fish is caught in a canal in Weston, Fla.
In this May 16, 2012, file photo, a snakehead fish is caught in a canal in Weston, Fla.

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