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Experts: Invasive fish in Sun Moon Lake pose little risk to swimmers

  • 23 September, 2020
  • John Van Trieste
Experts: Invasive fish in Sun Moon Lake pose little risk to swimmers

An invasive and aggressive species of fish has been living in central Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake for several years now. These fish can snap their prey in half with a single bite, leading to concerns about the safety of swimmers. But experts say the risks are low, provided swimmers stay away from their breeding grounds.

The giant snakehead is native to Asia, but in Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake, it is a recent arrival. This invasive species is certainly bad news for the smaller fish it preys on—it has powerful jaws that don’t let anything get away. Could it also be bad news for human swimmers?

That’s the question some have posed as the lake prepares to host an annual swimming event over the weekend. Compounding worries about safety is the fact that this is the time of year when the fish spawn, and are thus at their most aggressive.

Experts agree that the fish could indeed attack humans, but only under certain conditions. They say that in general, the giant snakehead prefers to avoid humans. And so swimmers, especially in such large numbers, should be fine, provided they avoid dark, shaded areas on the lake shore, such as forested shoreline or piers—the places where the fish lay their eggs.

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