Wildlife Officials Baffled by Unexplained ‘Mutant’ Fish

If you took pictures of a grotesquely deformed catfish in South Carolina over the weekend, then the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) would like to have a word with you. Pictures of a piteous and disgustingly mutated fish began circulating on Twitter during the holiday weekend, eventually making their way onto the SCDNR official Twitter account. It’s still unsure who took the pictures or where, but officials believe the veiny, bulbous abomination was likely caught in Lake Cherokee close to the border with North Carolina (the better of the two Carolinas).

Gross.

Gross.

Ross Self, chief of freshwater fisheries for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, believes that while the fish certainly is difficult to look at, it likely does not imply any threat to public safety:

This is an ugly fish. But this ugly fish probably took on some disease that it already had that does not necessarily necessitate panic. Normally, these things are not quite as, for lack of a better word, ‘gross’ in appearance. They usually are not that big and not that obvious,

Of course, what did the public do? Why, panic, of course. “Keep dumping chemicals into our lakes and waterways and this is what you will get. Is anyone surprised?” a Facebook user posted to the SCDNR Facebook account while another exclaimed “Toxins in the water!” Many users compared the poor creature to Blinky, the three-eyed fish of The Simpsons fame who was spawned in the toxic waters downstream from the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, although I’m not sure I see the resemblance at all.

Blinky

Blinky for reference

While many social media users have suspected that the fish might be the result of toxic wastes or fertilizer contamination, the more likely explanation is that the poor catfish is merely suffering from some sort of tumor or random mutation. You never know though; with the notoriously dirty and spill-prone Duke Energy power plants nearby, there’s no telling what could be in the waters of the Carolinas.

The hideous fish.

The hideous catfish. Probably still delicious.