Invasive Asian swamp eel found in Louisiana waterway
NEW ORLEANS - Wildlife officials say Asian swamp eels have been found in a Louisiana waterway.
The invasive species was found in Bayou St. John in New Orleans. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries samplings over the past several days have found the eels in multiple locations.
The eel, a common food in many parts of Asia, is normally found in shallow water and burrows into the shoreline. They normally live in freshwater, but they can also survive in brackish water for short periods of time.
Officials say the eel's diet consists of fish, shrimp, crawfish, frogs, and other aquatic invertebrates.
"If this species becomes established in Louisiana it could be the first population in the United States," LDWF Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator Robert Bourgeois said. "Its impact to our native fish is unknown and something we will study. We are always concerned when we find potentially invasive, non-native species in the state."
Over the years, similar Asian swamp eel species have been found in other states such as New Jersey, Hawaii, Georgia and Florida. Wildlife agents are investigating how the eels got into Louisiana.
It’s believed that the eels were accidentally released into the water or they were pets released from an aquarium. Officials say possession of live Asian swamp eels is prohibited, and it's illegal to release them into state waterways.
Agents are continuing to sample waterways to determine how far the eels have moved. People can help officials determine the range of the Asian swamp eel by putting them in plastic bags and placing the animals in a freezer. The department says people can call them to arrange for a pickup.
For more information, or to report a sighting send an email to AquaticInvasives@la.gov or call the LDWF aquatic invasive species hotline at 225-765-3977.