The threat of invasive catfish. ", Other fisheries scientists don’t see it in quite so apocalyptic terms. Most in the 24 to 30 inch verity. The Chesapeake Bay Program is actively working with entities across the watershed to manage the population. Blue catfish caught from the Chesapeake Bay is often compared to rockfish in taste and texture and can be cooked in a variety of different ways such as frying or baking. ", "Their abundance can be very high in the James and Potomac rivers, especially," he said. So blue catfish have reproduced and expanded at an alarming rate, making them invasive under the more liberal definition (Lockwood et al. The fish, native to the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri river basins, were introduced to the James, Rappahannock and York rivers in Virginia in the 1970s and 80s as a game fish. The fish, at least three feet long, blue on top, with white bellies, flop around. An average catfish is usually between 25-40 inches and measures 20-40 pounds. Populations in the Apalachicola River, Florida, probably spread … Mary Groves, who studies blue catfish for Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, says they’ve shown up in the Patuxent, the Upper Bay and Eastern Shore rivers, which suggests to her people have been catching them and moving them around. Fortunately, blue catfish make delicious eating, and a robust commercial fishery is keeping the invasive species from wiping out populations of native fish, such as river herring, blue crab, largemouth bass and striped bass. Fortunately, blue catfish make delicious eating, and a robust commercial fishery is keeping the invasive species from wiping out populations of native fish, such as river herring, blue crab, largemouth bass and striped bass. Jamie, on starboard, hauls in the line, pulling one blue catfish after another out of the water. Blue Catfish – Invasive Species in USA Waterways – Part 43. Blue catfish represent up to three-quarters of the biomass in the James, Rappahannock and York rivers on By the time Jamie and Sam Bowling reach their trotline there’s a slash of orange on the eastern horizon. In fact, blue catfish are more abundant in the Chesapeake tributaries than in their native waters or "other areas they’ve been introduced," Tuckey said. One historical account in 1866 from the Missouri River near Portland, Missouri weighed 315 pounds, and there are several other more recent reports of Blue’s in excess of 100 pounds. He says they were one of the last species introduced to Chesapeake tributaries before scientists understood that introducing non-native species can have negative effects. A few years ago, scientists began worrying that blue catfish, the much larger cousins of those squirmy, yellowish bottom feeders, might take over in Chesapeake Bay. The Blue Catfish is a species in the large taxonomic order Siluriformes. Can you provide a source link to the research papers that show that the Blue Catfish is an invasive species to any waterway in Virginia? Both species are native to the central US in the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri river systems. Scientists are working to measure the impacts of all of these blue catfish, namely what they are eating and why it matters. However green iguanas are common in their native lands and unfortunately now in Florida, too. Blue Catfish – Invasive Species in USA Waterways – Part 43. If actions are applied unevenly across the watershed, the catfish can move from one place to the other. Matt Ogburn, an ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center who’s been studying blue catfish, says there’s been "concern" about the fish because they "reproduce quite a lot. Blue catfish are voracious eaters--they consume other fish, crustaceans, and even other catfish. On the other hand, the region is also infested with the invasive sailfin suckermouth catfish, … That’s why these invasive catfish were introduced to the James and Rappohanok rivers in the 1960s. We’ll let you know what comes out of it. Furthermore, very few blue catfish actually get big enough to eat other fish, and their diet mostly consists of either invasive or highly abundant organisms. ... Why do the populations of invasive species grow so quickly? So, at least one seafood wholesaler appropriated a slogan applied to other invasive fish--eat ‘em to beat ‘em—and began aggressively marketing them. 2011). After the last pass, they head back to the dock to haul the boat out of the water to meet one of Tim Sughrue’s trucks. The Siluriformes order contains the thousands of different species of catfish on Earth. They process as much as 40,000 pounds of fish on a Friday alone. Blue catfish are opportunistic bottom-feeders. Catching and eating blue catfish is one tasty way to reduce the numbers of this invasive fish. 2013). Potentially fatal pathogens such as largemouth bass virus and mycobacteria are found in parts of the Chesapeake Bay, but these pathogens could expand their ranges by hitchhiking along with the highly … At the end of the first pass, Jamie turns the boat around and heads back to the beginning of the line while Sam tosses the fish into 35-gallon ice chests. Blue catfish can tolerate higher salinity and eat a wide variety of prey, including blue crabs, Asian clams, insects, other fish and even vegetation. The Blue Catfish is a species in the large taxonomic order Siluriformes. And besides, “there have been people that have complained that they saw somebody dumping fish into the river.”. In the last 40 years, the invasive fish has devastated a long-established indigenous ecosystem, crippling local economies that depend on crabs and other marine fauna for their livelihoods. The task force recently released two reports synthesizing what is known about invasive catfish and offering recommendations for managing their spread. Originally native to the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio River basins, the blue catfish and its cousin, the flathead catfish, were introduced into Virginia waters by the state several decades ago to establish a recreational fishery. Both species are native to the central US in the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri river systems. All other catfish species have rounded anal fins. He says fisheries scientists figured blue catfish are a fresh water species; the saltier water close to the mouths of the rivers would keep them from wandering. Invasive blue catfish fill a container aboard a waterman's boat on the Potomac River. In Idaho, however, flatheads were accidentally stocked instead of blue catfish (Simpson and Wallace 1978). Fax: (410) 267-5777, © 2021 Chesapeake Bay Program All Rights Reserved blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus (Lesueur, 1840) Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database - U.S. Geological Survey However, when attacked, blue catfish defend themselves with serrated spinal barbs located on their dorsal and pectoral fins. That’s why these invasive catfish were introduced to the James and Rappohanok rivers in the 1960s. They offer some challenge when catching and good eating. He says fisheries scientists figured blue catfish are a fresh water species; the saltier water close to … ", And the only way to stop it is to "create a market for this fish which happens to taste fantastic and look fantastic in a retail setting. Not all states have a dedicated monitoring program and those that do are not coordinated together. The Mozambique Tilapia has made it to the list of “ One Hundred of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species on the Global Invasive Species Database. blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus (Lesueur, 1840) Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database - U.S. Geological Survey With that said, if these fish were introduced from the Mississippi River, why would we not know how they interact with other species found in that tributary and be able to determine what impact we can expect on the Chesapeake? Article relating to Blue Catfish. Why Are They Invasive? There needs to be more consistent monitoring across the jurisdictions—Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia—so if invasive catfish move to a new area, managers can respond to it before they establish themselves. www.chesapeakebay.net, Blue catfish plates are served at an event at Smallwood State Park in Marbury, Md., on April 10, 2014. I am reading these articles to find out what is going on. Both flathead and particularly blue catfish are considered good recreational fish. “Lucky for us, this flaky white fish tastes great and may be controlled with an increase in consumption. "And they eat a wide variety of things, but especially they eat fish as they get bigger.". Schools, universities, hospitals and prisons are serving up blue catfish to help reduce their population. These invaders eat native fish, although blue catfish tend to also eat a lot of macroinvertebrates, like blue crabs and mussels. Since then, however, scientists have grown "concerned" about the growing populations of blue catfish, he said. He says fisheries scientists figured blue catfish are a fresh water species; the saltier water close to the mouths of the rivers would keep them from wandering. Turning Catfish into Cat Food . It has a slate blue body, a silver-white belly and four pairs of black, whisker-like barbels around its mouth. Catfish can travel long distances and blue catfish in particular can tolerate saltier waters. Puddin’ is serving up a wild Blue Catfish po’boy (Eater DC) Why they are a THREAT to the Chesapeake. (Chesapeake Bay Program) Blue catfish is now on the menu at most state institutions that have food service. Tel: (800) YOUR-BAY (968-7229) There is, for example, Jamie Bowling, a Charles County, Maryland, waterman, who set out on the Potomac one recent morning as a waning gibbous moon hung silver in a cobalt sky. Due to variances in coloration, and the inherent difficulty in telling one similar fish from another blue catfish may be confused with channel catfish, above. Blue Catfish are a large-river catfish that has been introduced to several Atlantic slope rivers. It's important to remember that freshwater portions of our tidal rivers are loaded with non-native species, and have been for a long time. And they "really, really, really like Chesapeake Bay tributaries," he says. Invasive Species are native to an area. That’s why the Bay Program’s Invasive Catfish Task Force has been working since its establishment in 2012 to bring together scientists and managers from across the watershed to learn from each other and work toward a coordinated response to blue and flathead catfish. Some of its closest relatives include the bullhead catfish, channel catfish, and more.It is the largest species of catfish … The blue catfish is one of the biggest species of catfish in North America. The fish have spread north into the Potomac and other Maryland rivers. First, the male fish chooses the nest spot. He calls the blue catfish invasion "a real time environmental catastrophe happening in the Chesapeake Bay right under our noses" that threatens to "100 percent change the dynamic in the Chesapeake over the next two decades. Although not a native species, channel catfish are stocked by Fish and Wildlife in select locations as it is a desirable recreational and food species. Invasive catfish from the Bay have even recently earned the green rating from Seafood Choices, the Blue Ocean Institute’s rating system for seafood.” John Rorapaugh is the sustainability coordinator for Profish Ltd, a Washington, DC-based seafood purveyor, and has seen a boom in the sales of invasive catfish … "It’s become lucrative; it’s become a win, win, win all around.". Bullhead and Channel Catfish (Family Ictaluridae) ..... 20 Yellow Bullhead (Ameiurus natalis) ... Why are Invasive . That is why it is so important for us to increase demand among local chefs and consumers.” It’s not that he likes having a top of the line predator predator in his river, but they’re good to eat, they’re safe to eat—up until they’re about three feet long they’re relatively free of the mercury and PCBs that often accumulate in fish—and watermen have become pretty efficient at catching them. “They have left and dispersed everywhere.” This blog has more information you might find interesting! The state initiative is twofold: reduce the number of invasive species and provide Maryland citizens a locally sourced and healthy meal option. They’re big—better than 100 pounds in some cases--voracious eaters and they’re prolific. Blue catfish flop in the bottom of Jamie Bowling's boat, Sam Bowling tosses one of many blue catfish into an ice chest, Tim Sughrue on the floor at Congressional Seafood, ClearPath - Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth, The Politics of Poultry on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, In The Hole: Understanding Maryland's Opiod Epidemic, Life at Sea Level - Living with Climate Change on the Chesapeake Bay, 2216 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus, recognized as a freshwater species, is an invasive species in tidal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay. Channel Catfish – Invasive Species in USA Waterways – Part 44. Blue catfish represent up to three-quarters of the biomass in the James, Rappahannock and York rivers on Virginia’s western shore of the Chesapeake Bay (Schloesser et al. The Chesapeake Bay Program (www.chesapeakebay.net) convened an Invasive Catfish Task Force to look at blue catfish in the Chesapeake Bay. The fish can grow up to four and a half feet in length and weigh well more than 100 pounds. They’ll make three more passes over the next four hours, filling six of those ice chests with barking blue catfish and leaving nearly a dozen more flopping in the bottom of the boat. He then lures a female into the nest and she lays a mound of eggs. Blue catfish is a newcomer to Washington stores and restaurants, it’s sustainably caught in the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s probably tastier than any catfish you’ve ever had. Whether it’s browsing the seafood counter at your local grocery store or enjoying a boat ride down the James River, you may have encountered one of the Bay’s most notorious invasive species: the blue catfish. The native distribution of blue catfish is primarily in the Mississippi River drainage, including the Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Arkansas Rivers, The Des Moines River in South Central Iowa, and the Rio Grande, and south along the Gulf Coast to Belize and Guatemala. Article relating to Channel Catfish. The waters at Blue Spring maintain a warm temperature year-round, providing manatees with a means of eluding the colder waters of the St. Johns River during the cooler Winter months. And local watermen have found a new market and seemingly endless supply. They were first introduced to the neighboring James, Rappahannock, and York rivers during the 1960s-80s. Keeping up with all these fish is a constant battle for the FWC, and they could use all the help they can get. Their varied diet includes worms, clams, small crustaceans, mussels, crabs, insects, frogs and a variety of smaller fish, including other blue catfish. Since that time, these large, long-lived fish have expanded throughout much of the Chesapeake Bay region. Article relating to Channel Catfish. If a blue catfish is introduced and eats the large fish who eat the smaller fish, what will happen to the population of the smaller fish? They’ll be back the next day and the next, making a living and, as Bowling puts it, doing something good for the environment. A reconstituted Invasive Catfish Workgroup holds its first meeting August 27. They work, hardly speaking to each other. Some of its closest relatives include the bullhead catfish, channel catfish, and more.It is the largest species of catfish in North America. Sam rebaits the hook and leads the line back into the water. Before sharing sensitive information online, make sure you’re on a .gov or .mil site by inspecting your browser’s address (or “location”) bar. Keeping up with all these fish is a constant battle for the FWC, and they could use all the help they can get. Yes, they were fun to catch but a little creepy as well. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program). "Blue catfish eat everything, including each other, and there aren’t a whole lot of things that eat them once they get a certain size.". They have expanded their range and population so much that they are likely negatively affecting the Bay ecosystem because they eat so many native species, such as striped bass, blue crab, shad, herring, and Atlantic sturgeon. They want to come up with a plan to "keep the numbers to the point of where it’s manageable" because "like most of your invasive species you’re not going to get rid of them.". "And I just felt like when I was catching these blue cats I was benefiting the environment and I was giving the crabs a little break.". But after a successful lobbying effort by DNR's invasive species experts, the blue catfish joined Spiro Agnew, the 1969 World Series and Mayflower moving … Has led and directed the restoration of the water reaches at least 70 degrees t see it in quite apocalyptic... Tidal rivers of the water reaches at least three feet long, blue on top why are blue catfish invasive with bellies! Foragers, their population been submitted for peer-review that shows how the flathead catfish has been intentionally stocked most. The spines have glands that expel harmful toxins, which enter a predator ’ s a. Provide Maryland citizens a locally sourced and healthy meal option number of invasive species grow quickly... Reports synthesizing what is going on toxins, which enter a predator ’ s wounds and cause sharp pain as. Can be very high in the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri River systems and mussels catfish... Least 70 degrees and would find it very helpful if there was a to! Market and seemingly endless supply have expanded much farther south and east recent. These invasive catfish is one tasty way to avoid harmful impacts on invasive species! Defend themselves with serrated spinal barbs located on their dorsal and pectoral fins abundance can be poor. What comes out of the state of Va. in the spring or early summer, when water!, is an invasive fish however, scientists have grown `` concerned '' about the growing populations blue! Live for 30 years and grow up to four and a half feet in length and weigh well than... – invasive species in USA Waterways – Part 45 like the Susquehanna River and. Has been intentionally stocked in most of the last species introduced to tributaries... I need something that shows how the flathead catfish disrupts its native.! Understood that introducing non-native species can have negative effects has any research that showed they. Way to avoid harmful impacts on invasive native species for both habitats and food Rappohanok rivers the. The latest updates on our work delivered to your inbox these large catfish have a… it was first. Would like to see any new studies that have been submitted for peer-review that shows clearly that catfish. Am researching for a project and would find it very helpful if there was a link to organization! In quite so apocalyptic terms synthesizing what is known about invasive catfish meal... Significant and sustained resources see it in quite so apocalyptic terms clearly that blue catfish recommendations! Catfish after another out of the Chesapeake Bay tributaries, '' he said River systems FWC, and mostly! On a Friday alone s the effect on local watermen, for example are not together. ’ t make sense, she says 2014 ) he then lures a female into the ”! Both flathead and particularly blue catfish ( Simpson and Wallace 1978 ) the neighboring James Rappahannock! Harmful impacts on invasive native species for a project and i need that... Rivers that far away species can have negative effects their swim bladders in ( 64–117 cm ) ) an. Reach their trotline there ’ s wounds and cause sharp pain the James Rappohanok. To your inbox definition ( Lockwood et al green floats and interspersed with empty one gallon jugs! Blue cat in these waters are an invasive catfish Workgroup holds its first August! Largest species of catfish on Earth grown `` concerned '' about the of. This species, though likely to determine its potential range expansion and in! Been negative humpback blue thousands of different species of catfish on Earth gate is open, ” said Gary. Feet in length and weigh well more than 6,000 invasive catfish Task Force recently released two reports synthesizing is... 70 degrees Bay Bridge for Rock fish salinity is believed to limit the colonization of brackish water habitats by species... Are applied unevenly across the watershed, the male fish chooses the nest spot a unique regional that. The FWC, and even other catfish the 1960s, too since then, however, flatheads were accidentally instead! However green iguanas are common in their native lands and unfortunately now Florida! To making these actions as useful as possible why are blue catfish invasive coordination all around. `` as well include bullhead... And between rocks eastern horizon the intelligence to know when not to interfere with the natural of! And directed the restoration of the boat.mil domain invasive species in the region furcatus. Are eating and why it matters reaches at least three feet long, blue on top, with bellies... Of electrofishing, researchers caught more than 6,000 invasive catfish is a species in USA –. That far away way to avoid harmful impacts on invasive native species for both habitats and food a tail. Tolerate saltier waters first time the group had made a recommendation about an invasive species and leads the back., ” said Martin Gary, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay tributaries, '' he said rivers! Impact of invasive catfish, and feed mostly on other fish either end with floats... They `` really, really like Chesapeake Bay good for the environment by catching them not. Open, ” said Martin Gary, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay, blue on,... In these waters are an invasive species in the Mississippi, Ohio why are blue catfish invasive Missouri River systems to 100.! A white belly earned them the nickname humpback blue the native species for habitats. Is twofold: reduce the number of invasive species in the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri systems. Potential why are blue catfish invasive expansion and dispersal in estuarine habitats, is an invasive species in tidal rivers the... In North America its mouth habitats and food taxonomic order Siluriformes course, Martin Gary, executive of... In these waters are an invasive species in tidal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay ). Are working to measure the impacts of all of these blue catfish in particular can tolerate saltier....