Another specimen of the South American piranha relative has been caught, this time in Michigan. Doubtful News has previously covered pacu stories from Denmark, Paris and New Jersey, as well as the panic associated with unsourced “testical eating” claims about the species. Fortunately, some of the coverage has been less credulous this time around, though with at least a few sensationalist exceptions.
Fish caught in Lake St. Clair looks like piranha, but it’s no man-eater (Detroit Free Press):
While the fish is being identified properly, hopefully through the University of Michigan, [an acting fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR)] said it is believed to be a pacu, which has teeth and eats fruits, nuts and seeds. Unlike piranha, which have pointy, razor sharp teeth, pacu teeth are more squared off like human teeth.
There have been various media reports of pacu being described as testicle biters, but a University of Michigan researcher told CNN last year that there was no record of them having attacked a human, that the fish are fruit eaters and they use their teeth to crush seeds.
According to the Michigan DNR representative, the most likely origin of the fish is having been dropped in the lake by a pet owner after outgrowing its tank, a harmful practice as the fish is not native to the lake. Many non-native species are either maladapted or become invasive in the new environment.