Alligator-like fish with huge jaws and sharp teeth spotted in Singapore — 10,000 miles from its native home

Authorities have suggested that the creature may have been kept as a pet and released by its owners once it grew too large for them to handle

Eleanor Sly
Sunday 21 February 2021 10:42
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Alligator-like fish with huge jaws and sharp teeth spotted in Singapore
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A huge fish that looks like a ‘prehistoric’ alligator was found washed up on the shore of a reservoir in Singapore.

The remains of the fish were spotted on the banks of the MacRitchie Reservoir by Karen Lythgoe, 31, who is from Scotland but now lives in Asia. Ms Lythgoe was “shocked” to discover the creature and called it prehistoric.

Locals had trouble identifying the fish which appears to be an alligator gar, native to the southern United States, 10,000 miles away. Authorities were left baffled, wondering how it had ended up there.

The fish produces eggs which are poisonous to humans and is a predator at the top of the food chain. Releasing invasive species into the wild unauthorised could have negative impacts on the local environment and creatures already living there.

Ms Lythgoe described the moment she first came across the fish saying: “’There were some people already looking at it from the boardwalk, but that was too far away to see what it was.

“We thought it was a crocodile from that position, but it didn’t look quite right, so we went off the path to get a closer look.

“It wasn’t a crocodile! It was like something you might see in a zoo – it looked prehistoric with its big jaws and teeth.”

Meanwhile Imran Kassim, 27, thought it could be a reptile of some sort. He said: “Honestly, it flat out looked like an alligator, especially because a portion of its body was gone – probably eaten by a happy monitor lizard.

“It was pretty damn strange, but it looked enough like a lizard with its jaws wide open, that I would have never guessed it was a fish.”

The city’s water agency (PUB) and National Parks Board released a joint statement saying that they had identified the creature as an alligator gar.

Confused about how it ended up in a reservoir on the other side of the world, authorities have assumed it was kept as a pet and released once it had become too big.

Reports from local media outlets suggest that local fish merchants sell young alligator gars at just eight inches (20cm) long which would make this explanation plausible.

The authorities reminded people: “The release of these animals will disrupt our delicate aquatic ecosystem and may also pose a risk to users of our water bodies.”

Under Singapore law, releasing animals into reservoirs and waterways can leave you with a fine of up to SG$3,000 (£1,600).

The fish’s carcass has now been removed by the PUB.

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