UGA students found an interloper while sampling in a local creek last fall. During a site survey for a landowner, a capstone project in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the team brought up a mysterious fish.
Jay Shelton identified it as a weather loach, and this discovery marked the first time it has been found in Georgia. The weather loach is a non-native species used often in aquariums, but finding it in local waterways is cause for concern, according to Shelton, associate professor of fisheries.
“Invasive exotic species are such a big problem for all of us who are trying to manage natural resources,” he said. “One of the reasons we’re so concerned is that they seem to not have any of the natural predators, the natural population controls like disease. They sometimes have a competitive advantage that allows them—especially in systems where there’s been historic change—to thrive to the detriment of some of our natives.”