The discovery of an alien fish species in a small lake in Illinois has put locals and tourists on edge because the fish posses dangerous-looking teeth and bear a striking resemblance to ravenous piranha.
(One fish was captured on June 7 and a second was reportedly hooked more recently.)
It seemed eerily like a landlocked version of “Jaws,” but without the enormous shark and corny lines, such as, “I think we’re going to need a bigger boat.”
Lake-goers and officials were understandably concerned because piranhas are flesh-tearing predators that, according to popular belief, can reduce large animals — or people — to skeletons in minutes.
Additionally, reports of their presence surfaced just when a scorching heat wave was driving scores of people to the lake shore, hoping to cool off.
Thankfully, however, calmer heads appear to be prevailing. The fish captured on June 7 was inspected and turned out to be a pacu. Pacus, like piranhas, are native to the Amazon River basin in South America.
However, pacus’ teeth are shaped more like human teeth than the pointy teeth of piranhas. Pacus, which can weigh up to 55 pounds, prey largely on nuts that fall from trees, snails and aquatic vegetation. Until recently, they’ve been considered harmless to humans, but fear is growing after recent reports.
Presumably, the fish that was captured in Lake Lou Yaeger had been someone’s aquarium pet before being illegally dumped into the lake. In 2011 pacu were found in South Carolina.
According to the accompanying news report, not everybody is satisfied that Lake Lou Yaeger is safe.
One visitor stated, “I’m freaked because we drove for an hour to get here. So now I’m not so sure I want to go in.”
Another added, “I’ve had pet pacu before and I’ve seen them eat other fish, and I know when they’re hungry … that they’ll eat anything, so I’m kind of iffy about going out there because they could maybe bite me.”
Lake superintendent Jim Caldwell, sounding a bit like the Amity Island mayor in Jaws, assured that everything’s OK, adding that he has a small swim in the lake regularly.
It was about then that you half-expected the scary theme music to begin playing.
Close-up image of the captured pacu’s human-like teeth courtesy of KSDK.com.
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