'The killer in water': Chinese park warns visitors not to swim after bizarre creature spotted

A popular park in China has warned visitors not to go swimming after a large sharp-toothed creature was spotted in the water.

A park ranger at Baiyun Lake Park in Guangzhou caught sight of the animal on February 9 (local time) and snapped some photos. There had been previous sightings of the fish but no one had gotten a close enough look to identify its species.

The ranger told Guangzhou Daily the creature looked about 2m long.

Another employee gave local video news site Pear a more detailed, if bizarre, description.

"The back of the [fish] looked like that of a turtle and was black. Afterwards, it showed its head and it look like a snake's head."

Alarmed, staff members immediately put up warning signs around the lake warning people not to go in.

Local media dubbed the mysterious animal "the killer in water" thanks to its large size and sharp teeth, and speculated that the "ferocious" fish might wreak havoc on the lake's ecosystem by eating the other inhabitants.

Experts were called in to look at the photos, and determined the animal was probably an alligator gar, one of the world's largest freshwater fish.

A team of rangers set about catching the gar and finally reeled in two of the fish on Monday (local time). Neither of them measured up to the promised 2m - one was 1.2m in length and the other was just 0.9m.

This might mean the ranger who saw the gar earlier in February exaggerated its size, or it could mean there's still a huge creature lurking in the lake.

Believed to be more than 100 million years old, the species is known as 'living fossils' because they still have some physical characteristics of their early ancestors, such as the ability to breathe both air and water.

The largest alligator gar ever recorded measured a whopping 2.5m in length, although there have been rumours of fishes measuring more than 3m.

The fish are an unusual sight in Asia, as their populations are located primarily in the lakes, swamps and bays of the southern United States. Last week Texas wildlife agencies proposed new regulations to protect alligator gar from overfishing.

Park employees have theorised alligator gars may have entered the lake in 2013, when a reservoir gate separating the lake from the Pearl River was lifted.


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