June 7, 2005Bulging with bags containing 51 tropical fish, an alleged smuggler's custom-designed apronoriginally hidden by a skirtwas uncovered Friday at Australia's Melbourne International Airport. After the unnamed 43-year-old Australian arrived from Singapore, "customs officers became suspicious after hearing 'flipping' noises coming from the vicinity of her waist," the Australian Customs Service said in a statement released today.
The officers seized the as-yet-unidentified fish, which the customs service said "could have posed potentially serious quarantine, environmental and health risks." A search of the woman's home near Melbourne turned up five further fish.
The case is merely the latest episode in the fight against invasive speciesimported animals and plants that are released in the wild and often overtake native species. From Burmese pythons thriving in Florida's Everglades to kudzu plants smothering the U.S. South to Asian snakehead fish taking over Maryland ponds, these ecosystem-altering aliens are anything but science fiction. (See more photos of invasive species.)
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