What’s in the water in Oklahoma? Specifically, what’s in the water in Lake Eufaula that might have spawned a catfish that looks like a cow which was caught recently by a very shocked fisherman? Is it just a genetic mutation or is this fish tale about a new half-fish/half cow creature … a mer-moo?
After pictures of an anonymous fisherman holding the Holstein-like catfish were posted on a Facebook page, local media outlets spread the story and asked for more information. Lake Eufaula is a man-made reservoir and the largest lake in Oklahoma, formed in 1964 upon the completion of the Eufaula Dam. It’s a popular fishing lake so a bizarre fish like this has wildlife officials scrambling for explanations and fishing enthusiasts clamoring for a tournament.
The most common explanation is that the fish is an extreme version of a piebald – a creature lacking in certain pigments (Partial leucism) that makes it have large white spots among its normal coloring. Most common in cows (Holsteins in particular), deer, goats and birds, it’s sometimes seen in goldfish but rarely in other fish.
While some Lake Eufaula fishermen claimed to have seen a cow-catfish before (and much bigger than this one, of course), pictures are rare and none remember seeing one with such vivid patterns as the recent catch. Could it be something else? Some kind of fish-animal hybrid?
Greek mythology gives us the Hippocampi – half-horse/half-fish beasts who pulled Poseidon’s chariot and may have been inspired by the seahorse. Other mythological hybrids with fish tails include the Leokampos (fish-lion, sea-lion or morse), Taurokampos (fish-bull), Pardalokampos (fish-leopard) and Aigikampos (fish-goat). Indonesian mythology has stories of the Gajamina, a fish with the head of an elephant and Hindu mythology has the Makara, which is depicted as a variety of animal heads on a fish body.
With this many legends of half-animal/half-fish creatures, could Oklahoma be home to a Taurokampos or a new variation of one? Or many … as it appears the cow catfish was released back into the lake to breed. While wildlife officials try to determine if and why piebald catfish may be on the rise in Lake Eufaula, fishermen are baiting their hooks with grass and local farmers are checking their bulls for seaweed.