'Nessie's offspring' terrorises Aussie trout farm

An Australian trout farm announced a Aus$1 000 dollar (R4 600) reward on Monday for the capture of a giant eel baptised “Nessie’s offspring” that has suddenly appeared in breeding ponds and begun eating up the fish.

Gary Wales, from Tommy Finn’s Trout Farm near the south-eastern city of Melbourne, said the eel turned up earlier this month and has eluded all attempts at capture so far.

Visitors who have seen the creature said it is about 4m long with a head the size of a football.

Experts said it is probably a long-finned eel, which is common along Australia’s east coast but normally grows to a maximum length of about 2m, though bigger specimens have been found.

Wales said it is the biggest eel he has ever seen and he is hoping to catch it alive.

“Maybe it’s Nessie, Nessie’s offspring maybe, who knows, but no, it’s a big eel,” Wales said on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

“We don’t want it harmed, this thing’s probably 30 years old, and he’s come here probably by mistake and he’s found himself a good little home and plenty of food,” Wales said.

Stories of the Loch Ness monster, so enthusiastically promoted by the Scottish tourist industry, date back to the seventh century, when a water beast is said to have appeared before Saint Columba, the founder of Christianity in Scotland.

“We hope to catch him alive and take him to the Melbourne Aquarium,” Wales said.

Melbourne Aquarium curator Nick Kirby said the eel may have been living for up to 35 years in a pond upstream from the trout farm and been washed out during record storms and flooding earlier this month.

“The latest information I have is that they can get up to 100kg in land-locked areas and grow 3m in length,” Kirby said.—AFP

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