The department of fisheries and marine research on Monday announced the discovery of a new – potentially dangerous – invasive exotic fish species, the striped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus), in the waters off Cyprus.

The species originates from the Indo-Pacific region and is known as a Lessepsian migrant, meaning it has migrated from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal and is now considered established in Mediterranean waters.

Although this species had been recorded in the Mediterranean since 2001, its first documented appearance in Cyprus occurred in 2022 in the offshore waters near the Apostolos Andreas monastery in the north. However, last month it was also detected in the maritime area of Protaras.

The striped eel catfish is a relatively small fish, usually measuring between 15 to 25 cm in length. It has a brown body with white longitudinal stripes and four pairs of barbels, two above and two below its mouth.

The department said it poses potential danger to anyone who may accidentally catch or handle it, as the spines on its dorsal and pectoral fins and its skin secretions contain potent toxins.

Symptoms following a sting include localised swelling around the site of the injury and severe pain. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe complications and even death. Treatment for a sting typically involves applying heat to the affected area, usually with warm water, to alleviate the toxin’s effects and immediate medical attention.

For more information about these species, the department of fisheries and marine research called on the public visit its website (in Greek).