Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula)
Growing up to 3m (10 ft) in length the Alligator gar is the largest species of gar and one of the largest freshwater fish in North America. The primitive fish is able to withstand low oxygen conditions as it is able to breath atmospheric air using a modified swim bladder.
The fish is an ambush predator, lying still in the water as if it were a floating log. Unsuspecting prey, which consists of other fish, small mammals and birds, unknowingly approach the gar. When in striking range, the gar lunges forward, penetrating its prey with its double row of sharp teeth.
The alligator gar has been historically classified as a nuisance, and was indiscriminately hunted in much of its range. As a result, much of its range and population sizes have been reduced. Nowadays, there are projects to help monitor these fish and help protect them against further endangerment.
Photo by Greg Hume