As I watched two episodes of “River Monsters” on the introduction of non-native species of fish that have begun to wreak-havoc on the native ecosystems, I realized the conservation nightmare that invasive species can pose. Jeremy Wade the host of “River Monsters” is a fish biologist that travels the world to catch the largest fishes known to man. During his exploits around the world, he has encountered habitats that have been decimated by the introduction of fish species with no natural predators in the region. In the episodes of “Killer Snakehead” in season two and “The Mutilator” in season three, it is easy to see why man is the creator of his own demise. By purposely introducing species of fish into ecosystems for the intent of later use, man has caused more harm than good.
“Killer Snakehead” reflected on the introduction of Asian Snakehead fish into the waters of the United States. Shortly after the introduction of these fish, they began to spread across the south eastern portion of the United States unchecked and changing the native environment for good. While the media had blown the capabilities of this fish out of proportion, this fish is savage predator that kills on reflex and leaves the prey to die only consuming a portion of it. Spending millions on controlling the spread of snakeheads has proven unsuccessful and costly to native fish that have been poisoned along with this intruder.
In “The Mutilator” a normally vegetarian fish from the Amazon has adapted to its new environment in Papua New Guinea turning into an omnivore. After the introduction into the river system, the Pacu had to adapt to survive. The only thing is they have adapted so well that they may be changing the outlook for the entire ecosystem. Being an omnivore is very convenient, having a large array of food to dine on but also allows for a population growth that may not be supportable by the habitat. It seems as though the Pacu is eating the original inhabitants of the areas out of their homes by devouring the vegetation, which may even be affecting crocodiles.
Although these television episodes were not solely intended to push for wildlife conservation, they paint a vivid picture of the affects humans have on the environment. The introductions of these species into the new habitats were for human benefit, with no regard to the environment. Humans are selfish in their actions and only see the error in their ways after the damage has been done and is likely irreversible. While the overall goal of these episodes was not about the conservation of the region or the introduction of these species; it shows that even when humans may have a good intent, their actions can be disastrous to the environment.