news Monday, May 25, 2015 - 05:30
Written by  Benita Chacko


This morning, a report in Deccan Chronicle caught our attention. Apparently, “One of the most dreaded fish in the world, the red-bellied piranha, has found its way into the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh.”

The last paragraph of the report was the fun part. It says that a cousin of the piranha, the Pacu fish, was also lurking in the Godavari, and that “this fish is also known as ‘ball-cutter’ as it is known to bite off testicles of people entering its territory.”

A deadly fish which loves chomping on the human crotch, really?

The Pacu, or Pygocentrus brachypomus, are original inhabitants of the Amazon basin, but in the recent years they have been found in Sweden and France as well. After their mysterious appearance in Sweden, Denmark’s Natural History Museum issued a warning asking swimmers to beware of these fishes as they are known to be ‘ball-cutters’.

Henrik Carl, a fish expert from the Danish Museum, told the Swedish website The Local, "The Pacu is not normally dangerous to people but it has quite a serious bite, there have been incidents in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea where some men have had their testicles bitten off.”

He further explained this strange behaviour, “… its mouth is not so big, so of course it normally eats nuts, fruit, and small fish, but human testicles are just a natural target. It's not normal to get your testicles bitten off, of course, but it can happen, especially now in Sweden." The Local also reported that some fishermen have bled to death after the vicious fish bit off their testicles.

Among the many global news websites which got excited over this report was CNN. But CNN was later told that the ‘testicles’ comment, which originated from Carl, was just a joke out of hand.

CNN quotes William Fink, a piranha researcher at the University of Michigan, to clear the air, "The nuts that they're eating, the fruits that they're eating, are splashing down from above, and humans don't act like that when they're swimming.”

So in case you read the report this morning, you don’t have to be paranoid while taking a swim in the Godavari. But as one of the professors told CNN, it is still safe to keep the swimsuits tied up and remain at a safe distance from the Pacu.

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