Texas Tech University

Can We Really Eat Invasive Species into Submission?

Michael Snyder

May 19, 2017

Scientific American - LAS PEÑITAS, Bolivia-Before he'd ever seen a paiche, fish trader Eric Salazar had heard the giant Amazonian fish could grow up to 10 feet long, weigh 400 pounds and eat a man whole. The paiche, or Arapaima gigas, is the world's largest scaled freshwater fish. Native to the jungles of Peru and Brazil, it first appeared in nets in Bolivia's Amazon Basin in the early 1990s. As it migrated upriver, rumors traveled with it. People said it was created by nefarious Peruvian scientists, that they fed it with the blood of farm animals, that it wasn't a fish at all but a monster.

Other projects have taken a more participatory approach: The University of Oregon's Institute for Applied Ecology hosts an annual Invasive Species Cook-Off (aka Eradication by Mastication); Web sites like invasivore.org-run by Matthew Barnes, a biologist at Texas Tech University-and Roman's own site, EatTheInvaders.org, promote home recipes for exotic species. Even Whole Foods has gotten onboard; in 2016 the upscale grocer added lionfish to the shelves and started promoting it as "an invasive species" in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, "far from its native waters."

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