An elusive “monster” fish has evaded capture despite authorities draining an entire lake amid warnings it will attack humans.
The hunt for the alligator gar – an invasive torpedo-shaped freshwater fish with razor-sharp teeth – has drawn huge crowds, while millions have tuned into live streams from influencers following the search.
Gar can grow up to 10ft long and its origins date back more than 100 million years according to fossil records. They were first brought to China from the US as pets but many people release them when they get too large.
The creature in question, thought to be at least 27.5in long, was first seen in the middle of July by a resident in the landlocked city of Ruzhou, central China.
Chinese authorities say it poses a potential risk to ecosystems and humans. Last week, a boy in an eastern Chinese city was bitten by a 27in, 11lb gar, according to a television report in Jiangsu province.
The fish was located Yunchan Lake, a 30-acre space filled with artificial water and aquatic plants, but the local government had to drain it after spending two weeks trying to capture the “monster”.
On Tuesday, many media outlets and TikTok influencers gathered around the lake in anticipation of the fish. However, even after the drainage, there was no sign of the gar.
“With all this fanfare one would think this was about catching the Loch Ness Monster,” a user joked on Weibo, one of the country’s leading social media platforms.
Dangen Gu, an aquatic ecosystems expert at the Pearl River Fisheries Research Institute, said: “When a gar gets released into a river, lake or fish farm here it will start to devour everything, which can be a great threat to local ecosystems.”
Despite this, Mr Gu felt that the economic consequences of taking such drastic action could outweigh the problems caused by the creature itself. “Are we going to drain every lake when we spot gars there?” he said.