Symposium Abstracts: Discovery, Response, and Assessment of the Bullseye Snakehead Channa marulius in Florida
Kelly B. Gestring, Paul L. Shafland, and Murray S. Stanford
Abstract.—The Bullseye Snakehead Channa marulius is an air-breathing, large-bodied freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia. All Channa species are listed as prohibited (no live possession) in Florida and are high priority for Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR). This species was illegally introduced to southeast Florida waters and first reported in 2000. Bullseye Snakehead are now abundant in six major canal systems and are slowly spreading into interconnected canals. The laboratory derived lower lethal temperature of ≤10°C indicates the potential range of Bullseye Snakehead is limited to peninsular Florida. Bullseye Snakehead opportunistically feed on a wide variety of organisms but primarily consume small fishes, crustaceans, and insects. No measurable negative effects on native fishes in urban canals have been associated with the presence of Bullseye Snakehead to date. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is concerned these successful invaders may spread into natural areas including Everglades National Park where their potential adverse impacts are unknown. The FWC conducts standardized electrofishing, promotes consumptive use at outreach events, and conducts EDRR as management strategies for Bullseye Snakehead. The illegal presence of Bullseye Snakehead in Florida is undesirable and less problematic to native fish communities in urban canals than anticipated, but their potential impact in natural areas is unclear.