The arapaima is a monster fish with impenetrable, armor-like scales, that can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds. These things are native to the Amazon River in South American, but they appear to be making their first appearance in the United States. According to a story at NBC 10 Philadelphia, a dead Arapaima recently washed ashore along Florida's Caloosahatchee River, which runs from Lake Okeechobee west to the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to its intimidating size and tough exterior, the arapaima is athletic, capable of jumping out of the water to grab their prey, which includes small mammals, lizards, birds and other fish. Experts say the predator's voracious appetite and ability to produce hundreds of thousands of eggs during its lifetime would be bad news for native ecosystems if the species is able to get a foothold here in the U.S. The Florida Wildlife Commission currently sees no evidence that arapaima are reproducing in the wild in Florida some experts contend that finding one large, reproductively active specimen in Florida likely means there are more.
The state's wildlife officials are asking that anyone who catches or sees an arapaima or other nonnative freshwater fish species in the wild report it via their exotic species hotline number or website.
Photo: Getty Images