Invasive Climbing Perch is Nearing the Australian Mainland
The climbing perch can hibernate for up to six months in the mud of a dried up creek bed.
CAIRNS, Australia, June 5 (UPI) — A walking, breathing fish is threatening to invade mainland Australia, and scientists are concerned the invasive species’ arrival could spell trouble for a variety of native creatures.
The fish — capable of walking (or flopping) its way from water hole to water hole — can breathe air, live outside of water for up to six days, and defends itself using sharp spines that extend from its gills.
“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,” Dr. Nathan Waltham, a researcher at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, told Public Radio International. “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.”
The near-invincible climbing perch (Anabas testudineus) is native to Papa New Guinea, but it has been recently detected on the Torres Strait islands of Boigu and Saibai — likely brought there by fishing vessels.