The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is asking fishermen to be on the lookout for the Asian swamp eel. The invasive species of eel was found in Bayou St. John in New Orleans. It primarily lives in freshwater but can be tolerant of brackish water for short periods. LDWF biologist Robert Bourgeois says the swamp eel has the potential to throw off the ecosystem.
“It also eats the same thing that our small fish, our small bass and bluegill would eat. Insects, worms, other little fish, so it’ll compete with our native fish for resources,” said Bourgeois.
Bourgeois says it is a head-scratcher as to how it got into local waters.
“More than likely, it was an accidental or a purposeful release from either an aquarium or from a food fish. Someone may have dropped it or somone may have dumped it on purpose into the bayou,” said Bourgeois.
Bourgeois says the eel is not known to be dangerous or aggressive with humans.
“Like everything, it can carry a parasite or something, but in general, it’s not poisonous, it’s not venomous. People eat it back in its native range, I’d imagine people will try to eat it here,” said Bourgeois.
LDWF says if anyone catches an Asian swamp eel, they should notify the agency of where it was located, and kill it if possible.