Jammu & Kashmir

Unusual Alligator Gar Fish Discovered in Dal Lake Raises Concerns for Kashmir

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Unusual Alligator Gar Fish Discovered in Dal Lake Raises Concerns for Ecosystem

Scientists alarmed over the potential threat posed by non-native fish species in the eco-fragile Dal Lake

Dal Lake, Srinagar – In a surprising turn of events, the Lake Conservation and Management Authority (LCMA) made a startling discovery during the deweeding operation in Dal Lake. A fish resembling the Alligator gar, a non-native species, was captured near Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) on May 12. This unexpected finding has sparked concerns among scientists about the potential ecological impact on the delicate flora and fauna of the lake.

The video footage of this unique fish quickly went viral, leaving both the public and scientific community astonished. Masood Ahmad Khan, Executive Engineer of LCMA’s Research and Monitoring Wing, expressed his surprise at the discovery and highlighted the urgency of conducting comprehensive studies to determine if more exotic fish species are present in Dal Lake. The Fisheries Department, Fisheries Division of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST-K), and the Zoology Department of the University of Kashmir (KU) have been approached to collaborate on these studies.

Adding to the concern, another smaller-sized alligator-shaped fish was captured near Habak, about 5 km away from the initial sighting. Khan emphasized the need to understand the potential impact of Alligator gar fish on other species residing in Dal Lake, as they are carnivorous and known to grow rapidly, posing a serious threat to the lake’s delicate ecology.

Farooz Bhat, Dean Fisheries, expressed worry about the presence of Alligator gar fish in Dal Lake, emphasizing that their predatory nature could significantly harm the existing fish species and disturb the overall ecological balance. Bhat recalled previous instances where exotic fish species like Grass Carp were found in Kashmir’s water bodies, but this marks the first recorded occurrence of Alligator gar in Jammu and Kashmir. Scientific studies will be conducted to investigate the emergence of this non-native species in Dal Lake.

Former Dean Fisheries of SKUAST-K, M H Balkhi, echoed the concerns, emphasizing the need for detailed investigations by researchers to address the introduction of unfamiliar and potentially disruptive fish species into Kashmir’s waters. Balkhi highlighted the importance of scientific studies in safeguarding the fragile aquatic ecosystems of Kashmir, mentioning a previous project that had collected a freshwater gar species from Jammu waters. The recovery of Dal specimens of gar raises concerns and calls for a scientific approach to prevent unscientific introductions.

Irfan Khan, Head of Fish Genetics and Bio-Technology at SKUAST-K, stressed the necessity of studying the origins of the Alligator gar in Dal Lake. He called for investigations to determine if the fish had been deliberately or accidentally introduced and by whom. Khan explained that Alligator gar fish are top predators in their natural freshwater environment, primarily feeding on larval fishes and insects. They have a formidable ability to ambush and capture prey using their large jaws and fang-like teeth.

Experts have warned that the Alligator gar can have a significant lifespan and grow rapidly, making them formidable freshwater predators. These fish, often considered living fossils due to their primitive traits, have been introduced worldwide through the ornamental fish trade. Recent reports of their presence in various Indian states, including Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Maharashtra, highlight their adaptable nature to different environmental habitats.

Noted environmentalist M R D Kundangar raised concerns about the potential disastrous impact of Alligator gar on Dal Lake’s ecosystem. Being a carnivorous species, the presence of Alligator gar poses a significant threat to existing fish species and other aquatic fauna. Kundangar cautioned that the fish could also pose risks to swimmers. Instances of Alligator gar

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