11-year-old Girl Catches Piranha-like Fish in an Oklahoma Lake
OKLAHOMA CITY – July 26, 2018
An 11-year-old girl caught an invasive fish SPECIES with human-like teeth in an Oklahoma lake on Sunday.
The fish was caught at Fort Cobb Lake, located about 50 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
Kennedy Smith of Lindsay, Oklahoma, was fishing with her grandparents when she caught a strange fish with human-like teeth.
The creature was later identified as a pacu fish, native to South America and a relative of the piranha, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The pacu fish looks so similar to a piranha, but its massive size can make it a less-than-ideal pet: The pacu can grow up to 3.5 feet and weigh 88 pounds. Pacu primarily feed on plants but are considered omnivorous.
The fish Smith caught weighed about 1 pound and bit her grandmother as she removed the hook from the fish's mouth.
The woman, Sandra Whaley, said she suffered no ill effects from the bite.
National Geographic reports that pacu have a bad reputation online, where many people believe they are prone to bite human testicles allegedly confusing them with tree nuts.
Fears have been so widespread that some officials have even suggested that men swim with their bathing suits tightly tied, according to the report.
The invasive pacu were blamed by locals in New Guinea for the deaths of two men in 2011 after they reportedly lost their testicles, but the case has not been confirmed and National Geographic reports information on the incident is scarce.
The question remains: How did a pacu end up in a south Jersey lake?
"The introduction of the non-native pacu into Oklahoma waters is most likely from individuals buying them as pets and releasing them when they outgrow the tank they were raised in," the Department of Wildlife Conservation wrote.
The department said pacu have been caught in the state previously.
"I was confused because I knew that fish with teeth are not normal. It was weird. They were human-like and that made it even weirder," Kennedy told The Associated Press.
Pacu are considered an invasive species that threaten the native Oklahoma fish ecosystem and habitat: the fish Kennedy caught was taken by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and destroyed.