The hunt for a “monster” fish has seen a large lake drained in a city park after attempts to catch the elusive creature failed.
Millions watched a live stream of the operation as authorities in central China decided to drain the more than 200,000-cubic-metre lake earlier this week to find the beast.
City workers in Ruzhou, Henan province, had been trying various ways of catching the fish, believed to be an invasive species from North America, called an alligator gar, since the middle of last month.
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The creature living in the lake is reportedly about 80 centimetres long and was spotted by a resident in mid-July, with public interest growing after a video of the fish appeared online.
The torpedo-shaped fish can grow up to three metres long and is considered by authorities to pose a threat to residents and the local ecosystem.
After the lake was emptied on Thursday (August 25), the fish was nowhere to be found and is believed to have hidden in a 100-metre-long pipeline leading into the lake.
Qi Li, an official in charge of the park’s maintenance, told local news app Zhengguan News that draining the lake had been a last resort.
“We have totally considered the possible impact of lowering the water level on the ecosystem,” he said.
The draining of the lake has attracted controversy because of the high cost, with some people questioning the value of the operation to find a single fish.
However, most people have been fascinated by the unusual hunt which has attracted media outlets and live-streamers curious to see the empty lake and the “monster fish”.
The fish is suspected of entering the country through the exotic pet trade and is listed as one of 10 major invasive aquatic organisms by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
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