Gigantic goldfish may be threatening the delicate ecosystem of Lake Tahoe, the US West's iconic mountain lake — and errant pet owners "releasing" their unwanted fish may be to blame for the problem .
Researchers had heard fishermen describe the goldfish but thought they were mistaken — that is, until they saw the over-sized goldfish bowl stalwarts in the wild with their own eyes, reports KCRA News.
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"You just see this bright golden orange thing starting to float up, and you’re like, what is that? And then you take a net and you scoop it up and you’re like, it’s a goldfish,” said University of Nevada researcher Christine Ngai to KCRA.
The fish are growing in numbers, says the Associated Press, and can measure as long as 13 inches and weigh as much as 4.2 pounds (according to LiveScience), directly competing with native species for nutrients.
Researchers are also worried that goldfish excretions could trigger algal blooms, a threat to the lake's famously crystal-clear waters, wrote LiveScience.
Aquarium-dumping is likely to blame for the sudden influx of goldfish at Tahoe, experts told media.
“Those small little things that people do can have a large impact when you consider that it's probably not just one person doing it,” said Ted Thayer, of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to KCRA.
Goldfish of Unusual Size last made news in January of 2013, when a Michigan ice fisherman snagged a 3 pound, 15-inch-long goldfish at Lake St Clair.
Could these be signs that a decidely unforeseen goldfish Apocalypse may be upon us? We can only wait — and hope.