If a story with lots of reader interest and ongoing drama can be said to "have legs," then the Great Snakehead Hunt of 2012 could be classified as having wings and a pair of jet engines. The tale of the mysterious snakehead fish made headlines around the world as the freaky details about the so-called "frankenfish" emerged: it could breathe out of water, travel over land to new bodies of water, and was known to dine on frogs and small mammals if given the chance. It was considered aggressive and invasive. It was practically a swamp creature - elusive, dangerous and totally fascinating.
Best of all, it was videotaped right here in a small pond in Central Park.
Animal stories always grab the imagination - marmots travelling in the engines of cars for hundreds of miles, monkeys wandering around urban Ikea stores, snakes smuggled into the country in a person's underpants - but the snakehead fish reached new heights of international fame.
As the debate raged about whether or not the video was even real, wildlife officials got to work exploring - and then draining - the pond while fascinated locals looked on. The event even sparked a brief-lived protest, when at least one man attempted to halt the draining in an effort to protect the carp (which, by the way, are also an invasive species) by turning off the generators running the machinery.
In the end, the frankenfish was, in fact, squatting in the little Burnaby pond and, after being captured, it travelled up to SFU for closer examination . on ice. It's now enjoying it's new home in the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria. Though the story of the fearsome frankenfish soon gave way to fresh news, there was a long-term positive impact: as the discussion about invasive species and their negative effect on ecosystems grew, some local retailers - like T&T - announced they'd stop selling the live fish altogether, and the provincial government toughened its laws on invasive species.
For the thousands of headlines spawned by the appearance of the mysterious snakehead, we give this little creature the dubious distinction of newsmaker of the year.