Scientists in Srinagar are concerned that someone may have intentionally released alligator gar, a non-native and invasive fish species, into Dal Lake, causing disruption to the local fish ecosystem.
During a routine de-weeding exercise, officials from the Lake Conservation and Management Authority (LCMA) unexpectedly caught an alligator gar, which was the first time this species had been discovered in Kashmir.
Experts believe that unethical fishkeeping practices may be responsible for the presence of this fish. They suspect that some aquarium owners may have released their pet fish into the lake.
Dr. Irfan Ahmad, the Head of the Division of Genetics & Biotechnology Faculty of Fisheries at SKUAST-K, explained that the alligator gar is commonly found in aquariums around the world. He suspects that unethical fishkeepers may have released it into Dal Lake, where it grew in size over time. This accidental entry of a non-native species could potentially have an impact on the lake’s ecology.
The alligator gar is an invasive fish with an omnivorous diet. Dr. Irfan emphasized the need to study its impact on the ecosystem, as it may have survived by preying on smaller fish within the lake. However, the discovery of only one fish does not provide sufficient evidence of its ecological impact, and further research is necessary.
Experts describe the alligator gar as a North American species that can grow up to two meters in length. Although harmless to humans, it feeds on other fish species.
The LCMA has initiated an analysis of the fish’s impact on Dal Lake. They are collaborating with the Department of Fisheries and SKUAST-K to study the effects of the alligator gar on other species. Once the report is complete, it will be shared with the media.
This species of fish has recently been found in various water bodies in Bhopal, Kerala, and Maharashtra. Ichthyologists have raised concerns about introducing such fish species into India and recommend revising the list of imported fish to protect local varieties from invasive species.
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