The Missouri Department of Conservation is shining light on a state angler’s remarkable catch: this rare albino blue catfish.
And if that reads a bit confusing, that’s because the fish’s species is blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus. For Kevin Markway, however, his recent “blue” catch came up a pristine white.
Markway, a longtime Missouri fisherman, is now garnering acclaim from his state’s Dept. of Conservation. His all-white marvel came from within the Missouri River, and while a weight isn’t specified, the MCD does believe the albino catfish to be around 8 to 10-years-old.
Once Markway snapped a jovial photo with his trophy, the remarkable blue was released back from whence it came. He sent the photo to the Missouri Department of Conservation himself, and the organization gladly shared it to their social media.
“ALBINO BLUE: Thank you to Kevin Markway for sharing this pic of an albino blue catfish he recently caught and released on the Missouri River,” says MCD via their official Facebook page.
“Like other albino wildlife, albino blue catfish are rare,” the organization states. “It’s a recessive trait, and most don’t survive because they are more noticeable to predators when they are young. MDC staff estimate the fish was 8-10 years old.”
Congrats on this wonder of a whiskerfish, Kevin! Check out the albino marvel below, before we dive into what makes this catch so special.
Albino Catfish: A Fascinating Rarity
While the relatively small size of Markway’s catch may seem odd, it’s for a simple reason. Albinism makes a species far more conspicuous. Where most animals evolved to blend in with their environment, an albino-born individual will stick out like a bright, white sore thumb.
As a result, most are eaten by predators long before adulthood. Even those who grow to a decent size, like Markway’s, will typically fall prey to something larger and hungrier.
As for blue catfish, the species is native to North America’s Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio River systems. Blues can grow to absolutely gargantuan size, with some reaching close to 5-feet in length.
Per Tallahassee.com, the current world-record for a blue catfish is a 143-pound behemoth caught in June 2011 on Kerr Lake, Virginia. This catch is recognized by the International Game Fish Association. Rumors have persisted for centuries, however, of blue catfish reaching even more monstrous proportions. Non-albino specimens, of course.
So what causes a fish – catfish or otherwise – to become albino? DNR cites albinism as the “result of cells that can’t produce melanin, the pigment needed to color skin, scales, eyes and hair.”
With this condition, the individual turns out a white hue, typically head to tail. Some show a pinkish or grayish tone, too. A genetic condition, the recessive gene for albinism can pass down to offspring if both parents carry it.