This strange-looking fish started making the rounds on Facebook and Whatsapp a few days back, the senders claiming that it was caught in India. Interestingly, the senders were not sure where exactly it was caught. Some claimed that it was caught by the fishermen of Mangalore, while others claimed it was found in a “local pond.”
Several Internet sources have posted pictures of this fish under the title “Fish recently caught in India from a local pond. Half alligator. Half fish.” It is worth noting that they are all comedy websites. Here are some of these sources.
Most of the sources are blogs that have just copied this picture and posted it without any attribution.
What Is This Fish?
The Spanish name is Pejelagarto. They have a primitive appearance, which is why people who are unfamiliar with them suspect them to be photo shopped. The pejelagarto has a snout that resembles that of an alligator and long, sharp teeth. The word “pejelagarto” is actually a combination of “pez,” which means fish, and “lagarto,” which means alligator. It is a big freshwater gar that is commonly seen in Southeast Mexico, particularly in Tabasco, and in the southern parts of the US.
Widely known as the alligator gar, this fish was once considered to be a nuisance and eliminated in large numbers. Ten years back, people realized that their presence was very important to the ecosystem in which they lived. Today, US federal hatcheries and universities culture alligator gar in pools, tanks, raceways, and ponds. In Mexico, the fish is eaten and pronounced to be very tasty.
Just for Fun
Alligator gars are not found in India. Kudla (Mangalore) fishermen might have never heard of this fish. If I show a photo of this fish to the local fishmongers, they are sure to raise their eyebrows and say, “Enchi saav maraya.” The closest translation of that would be “What the hell!!”
Someone with a sense of humor must have started it all. They picked a photo from the Internet, gave it a caption, and used it to fool their gullible friends. I guess the picture will go round for years, each sender claiming that it was found in a different part of India. I have received the same fish twice, once caught in Mangalore and once in Kanyakumari. I am sure it will come back to me many times, claiming to be caught by fishermen in Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Udupi, and many other places.