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Friday, December 18, 2015

Pacu Fish in New Jersey Lake Origin of Urban Legend?

Regardless of where you live in the United States, you are likely to have heard the urban legend regarding testicle-biting fish that infest local bodies of water.  Usually, these myths are accompanied by moralistic tales of illicit activity -- skinny-dipping or romantic trysts by moonlight.  However, a recent discovery in a New Jersey Lake had even national periodicals discussing the urban legend.

Two Pacu, fish with human-like teeth that are indigenous to South America, were discovered in Swedes Lake in New Jersey.  Pictures of the fish went viral online, and have been seen around the globe, causing the testicle-eating fish myth to begin anew.  However, National Geographic, USA Today, and other major outlets were quick to lay the urban legend to rest, saying the Amazonian fish eats fruits and nuts, not meat.  Pacu are related to piranha -- another fish with razor-sharp teeth which is infamous for its, very definite, carnivorous diet.

However, the legend persists: In 2011, two swimmers' bodies were found in New Guinea sans testicles, fueling speculation amongst the locals.  No one can confirm or deny that the fish may mistake swimmers' testicles for their usual vegetarian fare on occasion, but fish and other wild animals are also known to eat the soft parts of decomposing corpses.  They usually go first for the eyes, ears, and -- yes -- the testicles.

Tropical fish, the Pacu are unlikely to survive in temperate waters that may well freeze in winter.  As to how the Pacu got into Swedes Lake, it's likely they outgrew their fishtank and someone threw them in there.

© The Weirding, 2015

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