A fish called Nasrallah: Israel hails decline of ‘toxic’ catfish from their waters

Israel has managed to mostly banish a particularly invasive fish species from its waters. They came through the Suez Canal and fishermen nicknamed them after the leader of Hezbollah for their toxicity.

Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection lauded a “significant decrease in the presence of the invasive, poisonous Nasrallah fish” found in the shallow waters of Israel’s south, the ministry said Tuesday.

More commonly known as the striped eel catfish, the ‘Nasrallah’ moniker is a reference to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese political and paramilitary group, Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist organization in Israel.

Israeli fishermen apparently coined the name as the catfish has highly venomous fins, while invasive marine life is threatening the native ecosystem.

A native to the waters of the Indian Ocean, the striped eel catfish invasion of Israeli waters came as a result of migration of underwater life between the Red and Mediterranean seas since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

However, the decline of the ‘Nasrallah’ has been matched by an increase in the number of new invading species. Two new species previously spotted in Turkish and Lebanese waters but never before in Israel include the Red Sea goatfish and the Caribbean-native Buccaneer anchovy.

Battles over the naming (or re-naming) and claiming of wildlife in Israel is nothing new. Palestinians were left incensed in November after an online poll selected the Palestinian Viper as the national snake of Israel.

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