Armored catfish causing coastal erosion and burrowing holes in South Florida lakes

Filed in Animals, Animals and Nature, Featured, United States by on April 24, 2012 0 Comments

A pesky burrowing fish that has no natural predator is wreaking havoc in South Florida.

The armored catfish eats away at local lakes, contributing to erosion that can steal more than 10 feet off the water’s edge.

Someone even tried spearfishing in a desperate effort to eliminate them, according to one resident of the Royal Lakes community west of Boynton Beach.

Armored Catfish

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“There are some people who get totally upset, and I can understand why,” said Ralph LaPrairie, a fisheries biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

There are some quick fixes, including installing wire mesh or spike rush, a dense aquatic plant. “But that’s not 100 percent foolproof,” LaPrairie warned.

“If we do nothing, I think eventually we’re going to end up with a sinkhole,” said Susanne Ury, president of the Royal Lakes Homeowners Association.

The cost to prevent erosion and deter the fish can run to $1 million for large communities, said Chip Sollins, the erosion contractor. His company reinforces lake edges with concrete-like sandbags re-covered with sod. A mesh “fish grid,” as he calls it, deflects the catfish.



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