They are known colloquially as Frankenfish. They are gross-looking. They have big snake heads and disgusting snake mouths. And they can breathe out of water. They are the Northern snakehead, and they are native to China, Korea and other countries that are not the United States — but unfortunately, they have made their way to the United States, and possibly into the Harlem Meer in Central Park.
In the mid-Atlantic region (the Potomac and its tributaries, and other rivers as well) there is a well-documented presence of these disgusting creatures, but until now they hadn’t made it to Manhattan, though one was spotted in Queens a few years ago. They’re bad news — in addition to breathing air, which is creepy as hell, and having the potential to decimate other fish populations, snakeheads can carry some sort of fungal disease. So. If you catch one of these things, here is some advice from the snakehead-traumatized people of Virginia: KILL IT BY REMOVING ITS HEAD. Basically, treat it like you just caught a zombie.
On the plus side, snakeheads don’t eat people or animals. That said, if you were sitting in the Sheep’s Meadow smoking a joint, drinking a microbrew, and trying to go to second with a 24-year old publicist and a four-foot air-breathing snakefish ambled up, you would NOT be happy. So, if you catch one, follow the directions!
Officials are going to investigate Harlem Meer this week to see if reports of snakeheads have been exaggerated. We wish them luck. We hope they find what they’re looking for. Wait. We hope they don’t find what they’re looking for.
Harlem Meer in Central Park to Be Searched for Predator Snakehead Fish, NBC New York.