Alligator Carp: A Deadly New Hybrid (April Fools' 2019)

Oct 11, 2023 | 4 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 4 minutes

April Fools’ Day may have passed, but there’s never a bad time for funny fish pictures. Enjoy!

Locals around Baton Rouge, LA, have been alerted about a possible new pest in the Atchafalaya Basin. Authorities are putting up posters and requesting boaters to keep their cameras handy. Why? Recent photos suggest that invasive Asian Carp, which are already a danger in America’s waterways, are breeding with native populations of Alligator Gar.

A fish jumping out of the water in Louisiana's Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge.
So far, there has only been one sighting of this strange monster. Who knows when the next one will show up?

Is this a new species of “Alligator Carp?” It seems impossible, but if this is true, the country could never be the same again. To get to grips with this hybrid horror, we spoke to esteemed conservationist Dr. Frederick A. Kenews. We also did a little digging of our own to find out what the fish could mean to the area.

Asian Carp: A Flying Menace

A school of Asian Silver Carp jumping out of the water with the river bank in the distance.
Asian Carp are known to jump several feet out of the water.

Anyone who has spent some time in Louisiana’s wetlands is aware of the danger that Asian Carp pose. These fish aren’t aggressive – they’re not even carnivorous – but they have injured hundreds of people since they were introduced into the area. How? By bursting out of the water and bumping head-first into boats and boaters.

There are two species of Asian Carp in America: Bighead Carp and Silver Carp. Both species thrive in the Bayou State’s murky waters, swimming in schools a hundred strong and maxing out at over 80 pounds. Dr. Frederick A. Kenews explains why they’re such a problem.

“These fish were brought to America back in the ‘70s to tackle wastewater algae growth. They were a huge success at first, but nobody banked on their ability to jump over the containment walls. They broke out of their pens within months of being stocked. Once they got into the Mississippi River, they spread like wildfire and we’ve been unable to control them ever since.”

Alligator Gar: A Jurassic Monster

A large Alligator Gar being held on top of a cooler on a boat by an angler in a green shirt. Behind the angler, you can see a muddy river bank.
Alligator Gar look more like a dinosaur than a fish. There’s a good reason for that.

Silver Carp may be a new arrival in these waters, but Alligator Gar certainly aren’t. These monsters have been swimming around pretty much unchanged for over 100 million years, making them one of the oldest fish species to still patrol our waters. Judging by their looks, it’s not surprising they survived so long.

“Alligator Gar are about as tough as they come,” says Dr. Kenews. “They’re huge, armored, and armed with a mouth full of dagger-like teeth. On top of all that, they can breathe out of water. There’s not much out there that stands a chance against them.”

Dr. Kenews isn’t kidding. A Gar’s mouth is every bit as deadly as a gator’s, and their scales are so thick that ancient people used them as arrowheads. They can grow to almost 10 feet long and weigh well over 250 pounds. Despite all this, they don’t pose a threat to humans. In fact, there isn’t a single documented case of Alligator Gar attacking people. That could all change.

Alligator Carp: The Ultimate Invader

A rare sight of an Alligator Carp, a cross between an Asian Silver Carp and an Alligator Gar, jumping out of the water in Louisiana.

Silver Carp spread uncontrollably and Alligator Gar have survived since the time of the dinosaurs. These are two species that you can’t get rid of easily. So what happens if they breed? Is that even possible? Dr. Frederick A. Kenews seems unsure.

“It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” he says. “These species are about as unrelated as two fish can get. Honestly, I’m still trying to understand how this could have happened. If it weren’t for the pictures, I wouldn’t believe it was possible.”

Photos of the so-called “Alligator Carp” are grainy at best, but they do show what looks like a hybrid of a Silver Carp and an Alligator Gar jumping out of the water in the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge. The implications for the local habitat could be huge.

“Silver Carp are famous for their insatiable appetite. They also spread uncontrollably and reproduce in incredible numbers. Now, add in the predatory nature and indestructible build of the Alligator Gar, and you have one seriously-worrying invasive species. And that’s without even thinking about one flying into your boat.”

A One-Off or a New Threat?

A mock wanted poster for Alligator Carp, reading "Wanted Dead or Alive"

So far, there has only been one sighting of the Alligator Carp. We don’t know if there are thousands out there, or whether this was some freak accident that will never happen again. Experts in photo-forensics have declared the image 100% genuine, so one thing’s for sure: Somewhere in the Atchafalaya Basin there’s a new breed of river monster.

Have you heard any new reports on the Alligator Carp? Have you seen it? Contact us in the comments below if you have any information on this hybrid terror – who knows where they might spread to next!

Comments (7)

dusty cropper hopper

Sep 2, 2021

haha that’s great

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Deda Mraz

Apr 9, 2019

Amazing!

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    Albert

    Apr 10, 2019

    Hi Deda,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you liked it.

    Keep an eye out next year, we’ll be upping our game for sure!

    Tight lines!

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    DUSTIN DRAPER

    Apr 29, 2021

    It’s a spoon bill. Not a new species smh.

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    Dustin

    Feb 10, 2023

    Yup paddle fish lol

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Clifford Fleming

Apr 1, 2019

Photoshop

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    Albert

    Apr 1, 2019

    Hi Clifford,

    Happy April Fools’ Day!

    Tight lines

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