Fishzilla on way to Far North Queensland
A TOOTHY predator known as "Fishzilla" and a perch capable of climbing trees may soon reach Far North Queensland.
Snakehead fish, which are native to tropical Africa and Asia, have an appetite for blood and can grow to 1m long.
The fish are a declared pest in Queensland but researchers fear snakehead, which have been found on the southern coast of Papua New Guinea, may be brought to the Torres Strait, from where they could reach mainland Australia.
Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research director Damien Burrows said there was a danger snakehead and other pest fish species such as the predatory climbing perch posed a big threat to native wildlife.
"New Guinea’s a real dumping ground for the world’s worst pest fish," Dr Burrows said.
"There are a whole bunch of fish that are now on the southern coast of New Guinea, directly adjacent to Saibai Island and Torres Strait, which are even worse than climbing perch."
Snakehead, which have been the stars of a horror movie trilogy, are a big threat to fisheries, and have been known to eat waterbirds, snakes and rodents.
The fish can live in poor environmental conditions, helped by their ability to breathe air and in some cases, walk on land.
The climbing perch have been found in a freshwater reservoir at Saibai Island, in the northern Torres Strait, and are thought to have reached the island from a river in southern Papua New Guinea.
Climbing perch can travel across land on their pectoral fins and, as their name suggests, may even climb trees.
Dr Burrows said snakehead and climbing perch could both easily reach Cape York.
"They’re only going to get there if people move them, and that makes it an unpredictable quantity," he said.
"If we had a good enough education campaign in the Torres Strait, there’s no reason why they’d come through.
"They are certainly capable of surviving a journey in a bottom of a boat across Torres Strait."
Dr Burrows said authorities, with the help of the public, keeping an eye out for pest species was the best way of controlling their spread to mainland Australia.
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