06/13/2012 05:27 EDT | Updated 08/13/2012 05:12 EDT

SFU biologists to study snakehead fish

Biologists at British Columbia's Simon Fraser University are studying the invasive predator known as the snakehead fish caught in a Burnaby pond earlier in June.

The fish was caught by biologists last week after they partially drained a pond in Burnaby's Central Park following previous unsuccessful attempts. The fish was killed shortly after being captured.

Biologists will now dissect the fish and send tissue samples to the University of British Columbia and the province's Ministry of Environment to determine its sex, what it had been eating and how long it had been in the pond.

SFU grad student Michael Beakes says concerns about the alien predator are well founded.

"They can reproduce multiple times per year and each female can produce up to 15,000 to 50,000 eggs per spawning event," he said. "They can double their population size within 15 months."

Snakeheads are native to freshwater in Russia and China and have few predators when fully grown. They are considered highly invasive, can grow up to a metre in length and have small but sharp teeth.

They are reported to have wiped out native fish stocks in parts of the U.S., and are said to eat frogs, birds and even small pets.

They are also capable of breathing oxygen and squirming short distances over land.

The search for the snakehead began after a Burnaby resident posted video of the fish on YouTube.

SFU grad student Corey Phillis says it's a good thing the resident raised the alarm.

"It's good to have someone out there that knew what they were looking at and knew of the dangers of having that fish potentially becoming established in our local waterway."

Beakes said the snakehead's carcass will be preserved.

"We plan to send it to the Royal Museum of British Columbia, where it will be stored in its collections."