Rare fish with ‘human-like’ teeth found in California

Posted at 11:37 AM, Aug 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-19 11:40:20-04

SACRAMENTO COUNTY —  Photos of a mysterious fish caught in Sacramento County's Delta last week are going viral.

The photos were posted on Facebook by a woman who said she reeled it in near the Stockton Boat Docks.  Many are wondering if it is a dangerous piranha.

FOX 40 in Sacramento spoke to many fisherman in the area to see if they've ever encountered the fish before.

Duncan Darr, the manager of Cliff’s Marina who has become an expert on Delta fishing  the last decade, said he had no idea what the fish was.

Other local fisherman that FOX 40 spoke to were also unable to identify the fish, but experts say it is part of the piranha family.

“This is called a Pacu. It’s in the piranha family,” California Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Andrew Hughan said.

The Pacu is native to the Amazon. In California, it is considered an invasive species, and most likely, someone just dumped it in the Delta.

“In some states they are legal to be imported. Somebody probably brought them when they moved here from another state. It happens,” Hughan said.

FOX 40's Q&A with Andrew Hughan:

1. Will it hurt me?
A. “They’re in the piranha family. But they are not going to strip a cow carcass down in 45 seconds or anything like that.”

2. Can we eat it?
A. “The skin absorbs a lot of chemicals, so we do not recommend it.”

3. Can we still swim in the Delta?
A. “Yes, worst case scenario, it may give you a little bite, but there is a very small chance of that.”

4. There is an urban myth that fish from the piranha family will attack testicles. Is it true?
A. “They’ll eat other bugs, and other fish. But they’re not going to go after… Parts. Male parts? No, they’re not going to go after male parts That’s an urban myth.”

5. What do I do if I catch one?
A. Do not throw it back in the water. Instead, dispose of it properly or take it to an aquarium.