(VitalNews.org) – An 11-year-old boy from Oklahoma was shocked when he caught a fish resembling a piranha while fishing in his neighborhood pond. Charlie Clinton told his mother, Janna Clinton, that the fish had fought hard against being captured, but he had managed to get the better of it after a struggle.
The pair stopped to take photographs of the boy with his catch before throwing the creature back into the water. Janna Clinton explained that the pond has a strict catch-and-release rule, meaning anything caught must be put back into the water without being killed.
One of the Clintons’ photographs shows the fish’s open mouth, revealing a large set of human-like teeth. It was the teeth that helped to identify the type of fish as a pacu, which is native to South America, and has a close relation to the piranha. Unlike the carnivorous piranha, however, the pacu prefers a mostly vegetarian diet with the inclusion of some small fish.
Despite its distaste for meat, it has been known to bite human beings. When a pacu was found in the Øresund Sound, a body of water that lies between Denmark and Sweden, experts issued a stern warning against skinnydipping and advised men to keep their swimming trunks tightly tied.
Although the fish can cause pain and injury with its bite, it is generally not thought to be a danger to people. However, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) described the pacu as an invasive species that can be harmful to native wildlife.
Janna Clinton told reporters that it had been a mistake to throw the fish back, but that she and her son did not realize that the fish was invasive at the time. She added that Charlie had returned to the pond daily since learning this, determined to catch it and kill it in order to protect the rest of the pond’s aquatic life. The ODWC congratulated him for his efforts and wished him luck. They explained that the creature had most likely been a pet that had outgrown its tank and been thrown out into the pond by its owner. The fish can weigh as much as 88 pounds and have been known to grow up to 3.5 feet in length.
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