Tue, May 16, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Two bitten by fish in Taitung lake

FIERCE FISH:The territorial blotched snakehead is known for its sharp teeth and temper, eats aquatic animals and is able to stay out of the water for hours at a time

By Huang Ming-tang  /  Staff reporter

Taitung County Councilor Chen Ching-wen on Sunday shows photographs of blotched snakeheads caught in the county’s Flowing Lake.

Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times

Two people were attacked by blotched snakehead fish (Channa maculata) in Taitung County’s Huoshuei Lake (活水湖), leading the county government to close the lake on Sunday.

The county’s Education Department yesterday announced the lake is to be closed until tomorrow, and that it would evaluate whether to reopen on Thursday morning.

The county has instructed its Agriculture Department to categorize the fish and the Water Life Saving Association to clean the lake.

It also asked locals not to dump fish into the lake, which might create an ecological imbalance.

The blotched snakehead, known for its sharp teeth and fierce temper, eats aquatic animals and can survive for hours out of the water.

A foreign species, it has invaded domestic waters for years.

It is often seen in the middle and lower parts of rivers, lakes, ponds, gutters and reservoirs, posing a serious threat to indigenous species.

Huoshuei Lake, a popular venue for triathlons and a favorite recreation area among locals, is privately operated.

After complaints to the management about fish attacks, the Taitung Underwater Federation on Saturday searched more than one-third of the lake, but only caught two blotched snakeheads while two others escaped.

They searched the lake again on Sunday and found one in less than three minutes.

The fish might have been dumped in the lake, and might have already bred in large numbers, federation deputy director-general Chen Ching-wen (陳金文) said.

The two swimmers bitten by the fish had wounds as big as an infant’s mouth and later received tetanus vaccines, he said, adding that one of them was bitten on the leg when resting by the shore.

The fish are territorial and will attack any creatures invading their domain, Chen said.

Taitung County Councilor Chen Chih-feng (陳志峰), who also serves as federation director-general, said that apart from tourists’ safety, the effect on the lake’s ecology is also worrying, as the fish have no natural enemies and could reproduce in large numbers.

Taitung County Physical and Health Education Section chief Han Yu-fang (韓渝芳) said the fisheries section helped identify the snakehead as the culprit, adding that they would ask the federation to help catch them.

This story has been updated since it was first published to correct the name of the lake.

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