Cairns has reported that Australian scientists are terrified that a toothy, voracious predator known as the snakehead (and dubbed “Fishzilla” by National Geographic) may soon reach mainland Australia.

Snakehead fish, which are native to tropical Africa and Asia, have an appetite for blood and can grow up to 3-feet long. The fish were a declared pest in Queensland, but researchers fear that snakehead, which have been found on the southern coast of Papua New Guinea, may be brought to the Torres Strait, from where they could infiltrate the rest of Australia.

Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research director, Dr. Damien Burrows claims that snakehead and other pest fish species hailing from New Guinea, such as the predatory climbing perch, pose a big threat to native wildlife:

“New Guinea’s a real dumping ground for the world’s worst pest fish.There are a whole bunch of fish that are now on the southern coast of New Guinea, directly adjacent to Saibai Island and Torres Strait, which are even worse than climbing perch.”

Snakehead, which have been the stars of a horror movie trilogy, are a big threat to fisheries, and have been known to eat waterbirds, snakes and rodents.The fish can thrive in poor environmental conditions, helped by their ability to breathe air and, in some cases, walk on land.

The climbing perch have been found in a freshwater reservoir at Saibai Island, in the northern Torres Strait, and are thought to have reached the island from a river in southern Papua New Guinea. Climbing perch can travel across land on their pectoral fins and, as their name suggests, may even climb trees. Dr. Burrows claims that snakehead and climbing perch could both easily reach Cape York:

“They’re only going to get there if people move them, and that makes it an unpredictable quantity… they are certainly capable of surviving a journey in a bottom of a boat across Torres Strait.”

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