Walking Fish May Invade Oz

Walking Fish May Invade Oz

The climbing perch, which can live without water for six days, has spread across Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and is believed to be advancing towards Australia.

A "walking" fish that can move across dry land is threatening to make its way to Australia from Papua New Guinea and could pose a threat to local birds and marine life, scientists have warned.

The climbing perch, an invasive and exceedingly aggressive freshwater species which drags itself between waterholes, can survive for up to six days without water and has already made its way to islands off Australia.

Scientists monitoring the fish’s progress now believe it can survive in saltwater and is set to head for the Australian mainland, possibly by catching a ride in a fishing boat.

The fish was discovered on two small Australian islands in late 2005, about three to four miles south of Papua New Guinea.

“I still think the chances of it getting to Australia by swimming are quite low,” said Dr Nathan Waltham from James Cook University.

“There is more chance it will arrive in the bottom of a fishing boat or as discarded live-bait fish.”

The climbing perch, or Anabas testudineus, has tended to overpower native species in new environments and can hibernate in the mud of dry creek beds for up to six months.

It is able to destroy larger creatures by swelling up after being swallowed to block the predator’s throat, thereby choking adversaries or forcing them to starve.

Read more: