Saturday, June 6, 2015

Walking Fish Poses Threat to the Australian Ecosystem

The climbing perch aka the walking fish, has somehow showed up on some Australian islands not far from the mainland, (perhaps hitched a ride on a fishing boat it was suggested), and could threaten their ecosystem. Their uninvited presence could disturb the existing habitat and researcher, Dr. Nathan Waltham at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, is working with local residents to identify and eliminate this invasive species.  

So how exactly does this fish 'climb' or walk?

The climbing perch is a very fascinating fish. It is a freshwater fish, olive green in colour, and about 10 inches long. It is native to Papua New Guinea and according to Dr. Waltham, its gills cover both sides of its head. "It can extend that out and it can lock those into place. And along the edge of those gill plates are sharp spines," he says.

But that's not all.

Waltham says the climbing perch can also breathe air and even live out of water for up to six days. And those spines, they're not just for walking. "If a larger fish or a bird or some other animal tries to eat the climbing perch, it's natural defense is to flex and lock in place those gills," he says. "And in doing that the climbing perch can get caught in the throat and unfortunately in doing that, the animal that's trying to eat the climbing perch is not going to survive." In other works, the animal will be choking on their food.

Source: pri.org

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