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Virginia Man May Have Caught the World's Largest Snakehead Fish (Only, It's Not Supposed to Be There)

Jun 05, 2013 02:09 PM EDT

A Virginia fisherman may have hauled the world’s largest snakehead fish - the only problem being that it's not supposed to be there.

Caleb Newton said he caught the 17-pound, 6-ounce creature in a Potomoc River tributary when he went fishing with a friend over the weekend.

“It took me about a minute to get it in the boat,” he told the Free Lance-Star about the 36-inch catch.

To claim the title officially, Newton has to submit an application to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ including the detailson the fish and the scale used to weight it, Jack Vitek, world records coordinator for the association said, according to the Washington Post.

As it stands, the current record belongs to a 17-pound, 4-ounce snakehead caught in 2004 in Kagawa, Japan.

Originally from China, Russia and Korea, two populations of the air-breathing predator have since been identified in New York State: one in two connected ponds in Queens in New York City and another in Ridgebury Lake in the town of Wawayanda. And while the former is confined, the Ridgebury population has the potential to spread into the entire Hudson River drainage and beyond to the Great Lakes and Continental United States, according to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Among the places it has already spread is Virigina, where the non-native species was first identified in 2004 and has since grown to “relative abundance,” John Odenkirk of the Virginia Dpartment of Game and Inland Fisheries told Fox News.

Voracious and able to survive in a variety of habitats, the creature with the nickname “Frankenfish” has the capacity to quickly disrupt native ecosystems where they are introduced.

Furthermore, because the snakehead is capable of spawning multiple times per year, each time with tens of thousands of eggs, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources warns that once introduced, it may be impossible to eradicate.

Efforts to combat the fish include a myriad of projects undertaken throughout the areas where the fish is found. Among them is the snakehead derby held for those enlisted at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico.

“The main goal here is to encourage some good outdoor recreation for the Marines, their families and the general public,” Euel Tritt, a conservation officer at Quantico and one of the event’s organizers, told “And they’re an invasive species in the waterways, so it’s a win-win situation.”

To see a picture of Newton's catch, click here.

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