One fish looked a little odd.
“I thought it was a brim at first,” Humphrey said. “But a brim’s fins go down more at the back than this fish.”
Then he looked a little closer. Opening the fish’s mouth, he found a big surprise.
“A brim sure don’t have any teeth,” Humphrey said.
Josh’s mother Sharon saw the fish and did a little investigating through the Internet. She became convinced it was a piranha.
The thought of a fish known to be flesh-eating scared Sharon.
“I’m concerned,” she said. “Keowee is suppose to be our cleanest and best lake. We’ve got children in our family who love to play in the water there. I don’t want them swimming there if there are piranhas in the water.”
Jeff Foltz, a professor of fisheries at Clemson University, came by the Humphrey home Thursday afternoon.
Foltz confirmed that the fish belonged to the fish was indeed part of the piranha family, but there was no need for concern.
“He said this was a red-bellied Pacu, which eats fruits,” Sharon said. “He said there are between two and 10 of these caught in Keowee each year. People buy them in stores, and when they start getting too big, they dump them in the lake.”
Piranhas flourish only in water that is warmer than 40 degrees.
“I asked him about that,” Sharon said. “He said that perhaps the fish had found underground streams to live in during the winter and returned to the lake when the weather got warmer.”
Sharon has her own theories about the survival of the piranha.
“Josh caught this pretty close to the nuclear plant, where they are always putting warmer water into the lake,” Sharon said. ‘Maybe the piranhas stay there and nest. This one seems to be pretty healthy when Josh caught it.”
According to Sharon, Foltz said the is no reason for concern, as there are 35 different species of piranhas, and only 10 will attack people.
The red pacu is not one of the flesh-eating species, Foltz said.
Sharon mentioned the bait that Josh had used to catch the fish.
“I told him for something that don’t like meat, it sure took a bite out of a minnow,” she said.
Foltz told her that the pacu may occasionally take a bite out of meat, but their nature was to be vegetarian.
Foltz also told her the fish pose no threat to the public.
Sharon has her doubts.
“I’ve never heard of a friendly piranha,” she said.