The state of South Carolina is currently investigating reports of mutated fish after photos surfaced that cause for concern.
Last week, The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources tweeted out photos of a fish with a bizarrely deformed head that was caught in Lake Cherokee in Cherokee County.
A spokesperson for The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Greg Lucas, released a statement in regard to the deformed fish.
Lucas said, "According to Dan Rankin, SCDNR regional fisheries biologist for the Upstate, Dr. Ash Bullard from the Auburn Univ. Cooperative Fish Disease Unit said this likely is a neoplasm, but without the specimen to dissect, there's no way to be 100 percent sure."
We've seen these photos of Lake Cherokee fish & have sent them to Southeastern Cooperative Fish Disease Project for input. Updates to come 🐟 pic.twitter.com/jyq0fIBQpD— SCDNR (@SCDNR) June 28, 2017
He went on to explain, "A neoplasm is a mutation resulting in abnormal growth (a tumor), which just like in humans, can be benign, pre-cancerous, or cancerous. Fish get tumors just like other critters. "
Next, he clarified that this appears to be a singular case at the moment, saying, "I have not heard of additional fish from Lake Cherokee having tumors."
Lastly, he gave direction to what the protocol is is a deformed fish is caught.
He stated, "If anglers get a fish like this they can contact the Clemson SCDNR Office. We will send the fish off to Auburn Disease folks. We are also planning an electrofishing sampling event in Lake Cherokee in the coming days. This should allow us to assess the health of additional specimens, but we fully expect this fish is an anomaly and not representative of most catfish in the lake."
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources also revealed that they have sent the fish photos over to the Southeastern Cooperative Fish Disease Project for additional input.