A new species of invasive venomous fish, the 'Striped Eel Catfish', found in Cypriot waters

The Northern Cyprus Turtle Conservation Society has reported that a new invasive poisonous fish species, the "Striped Snake Catfish" was encountered in Cyprus waters.  

The association warned that this fish is poisonous, should not be handled, and should be referred to the hospital as soon as possible if it stings.

In a statement made by the association, it was noted that more than 1000 species of invasive fish live in the Mediterranean, only a small part of which is poisonous, among which the best known in the country are the stinging puffer fish and lionfish.

The association's full statement reads:

The existence of this species in the Mediterranean has been known since 2002. There were reports that it had reached the shores of Turkey and spread. However, its presence in Cyprus waters was proven for the first time in April, when a fisherman with whom we cooperated in the Dipkarpaz region within the scope of our Bycatch Project, caught one in his nets.

“The Striped Eel Catfish has venom glands attached to its dorsal and pectoral fins. In case of sting, redness of the skin, muscle twitches, swelling of the lymph nodes and fever are common. It can cause sudden onset of pain, bruising, numbness and swelling after the sting. The most common form of sting is the handling of fish after catching or contact with dead fish washed up on the beach. For this reason, care should be taken not to handle it in case it is encountered. In case of a sting, there are publications pointing to measures such as applying heat and taking antibiotics and antihistamines. In any case, we recommend going to the hospital as soon as possible”.

The association went on to say that there are serious concerns that if this species becomes widespread, it will pose a threat to indigenous species of fish.

Time will tell how the fish will effect changes to natural species on the coast. The association underlined that the only way to protect against marine invaders is by designating coastlines as Marine Protected Areas.


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