New Species of Poisonous Catfish Found in Local Waters

Striped Eel Catfish - 1
[Striped Eel Catfish]
Saturday, 3 September 2022

A new invasive species of poisonous fish, the “Striped Eel Catfish” (Plotosus lineatus), has been encountered in Cyprus waters, Yeniduzen reported. 

The Northern Cyprus Turtle Conservation Society has warned that this fish is poisonous, should not be handled, and anyone stung by the fish should be referred to the hospital as soon as possible.

In a statement issued by the association, it was noted that more than 1000 species of invasive fish live in the Mediterranean, only a small part of which is poisonous, among which the best known in the country are the stinging puffer fish and lionfish.

The venomous striped eel catfish is a species of marine catfish invading the Mediterranean Sea from the Red Sea through the Suez Canal and adapting to its warm water.

The Northern Cyprus Turtle Conservation Society statement reads as follows:

The existence of this species in the Mediterranean has been known since 2002. There were reports that it had reached the shores of Turkey and spread. However, its presence in Cyprus waters was proven for the first time in April, when a fisherman with whom we cooperated in the Dipkarpaz region within the scope of our Bycatch Project, caught one in his nets.

“The Striped Eel Catfish has venom glands attached to its dorsal and pectoral fins. In case of sting, redness of the skin, muscle twitches, swelling of the lymph nodes and fever are common. It can cause sudden onset of pain, bruising, numbness and swelling after the sting. The most common form of sting is the handling of fish after catching or contact with dead fish washed up on the beach. For this reason, care should be taken not to handle it in case it is encountered. In case of a sting, there are publications pointing to measures such as applying heat and taking antibiotics and antihistamines. In any case, we recommend going to the hospital as soon as possible”.

The association went on to say that there are serious concerns that if this species becomes widespread, it will pose a threat to indigenous species of fish.

Time will tell how the fish will effect changes to natural species on the coast. The association underlined that the only way to protect against marine invaders is by designating coastlines as Marine Protected Areas.


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