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OT II

Natural

Alligator Gar are found in the Lower Mississippi River Valley and Gulf Coast states of the Southeastern United States and Mexico as far south as Veracruz, encompassing the following US states: Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia.[4] They have also been known historically to come as far north as central Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa, and west-central Illinois, where the most northerly verified catch was at Meredosia, Illinois in 1922 and an 8.5 ft (2.6 m) specimen, now preserved, was caught at nearby Beardstown.[5] Specimens at locations further south in Illinois have been verified as recently as 1976, with the Illinois Academy of Sciences verifying a total of 122 captures to that date.[5] They inhabit sluggish pools and backwaters or large rivers, bayous, and lakes. They are found in brackish or saltwater, and are more adaptable to the latter than are other gars. In Louisiana it is common to see these large gar striking the surface in brackish marshes. [edit] Outside natural rangeThere have been a few notable sightings of Alligator Gar outside North America. In February 2007, a 1.5 m (4.9 ft) Alligator Gar was found swimming in Jakarta, Indonesia, when that city was hit by a major flood (see External Links below). In January 2008, a 3 kg (6.6 lb) alligator gar was found by fishermen in Bera, Pahang, Malaysia, when it was entangled in a fishing net.[citation needed] In November 2008, a 0.5 to 0.6 m (1.6 to 2.0 ft) long Alligator gar was caught in the north of Esenguly, Turkmenistan by two officials of Turkmenistan Fishery Protection. Dr. R. Mayden, Saint Louis University and Dr. Eric Hilton, Virginia Institute of Marine Science confirmed that it was probably Atractosteus spatula.[6] On September 4, 2009 a 1 m (3.3 ft) long Alligator Gar was found in Tak Wah Park in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong. In the next two days, at least 16 other Alligator Gars, with the largest one measuring 1.5 m (4.9 ft) long, were found in ponds in public parks in Hong Kong.[7] As reported by nearby residents, the fish were released in the ponds by aquarium hobbyists and had lived there for some years. However, after a complaint made by a citizen who falsely identified the fish as crocodiles, terms like "Horrible Man-eating Fish" were found in the headlines of some major local newspapers.[8] Government officials decided to remove all the fish from the ponds as they claimed the species had no conservation value and would affect the local ecology if left in the ponds. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said it would offer non-dangerous fish to animal welfare groups and charities. The fish that was caught first died later that day, and claims have been made that the local government does not treat the gars in an animal-friendly way - they were seen catching the fish with improvised nets and garbage cans.[9] On September 6 the government euthanized all of the fish as it said that there were no organizations willing to take them.[10] On September 8 however, the Hong Kong Ocean Park announced that it was willing to take the fish for exhibition and education to the public. Five surviving gars, caught on September 7, were sent to the Ocean Park.[citation needed]


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