Big fish don’t swim in shallow waters…the strong ones can venture upstream…the piranhas of life aren’t bad unless we let them devour us.
Metaphorical fish live in an eternity of words of wisdom. The red-bellied piranha found at Aberdeen Lake on Saturday did not fare as well. This fish is dead and in Chad and Lindsay Ray’s freezer. However, the Rays’ Facebook post has now been shared over 20,000 times. So, maybe he can live in infamy, too… except online and on a bag of keto cauliflower rice.
Beneath the gazebo in Aberdeen Lake Park last Saturday afternoon, the Rays celebrated their son Nolan’s 8th birthday with family and friends. As the party began to wind down, Chad, an avid fisherman, saw his chance to walk a few yards to the lake and chat with the two men he had watched catch several fish. Chad wanted to know their secret, or at least what they were using as bait.
After Chad and the two anglers – a father and son who frequent the lake – bonded over the success of shrimp bait, the father waved to the ground beside them. “He said to me, ‘Look at that over there. I’m sure it’s a piranha. Tell me what you think.'” At that point Chad thought “there’s no way, but now after watching it so many times, I don’t see what else it is. one thing.”
While Chad was doing his due diligence and diving into Google’s Piranha 101, Chad’s father and brother-in-law had come down and joined the investigation. Meanwhile, according to Chad, the two piranha catchers “tried to call the NC Wildlife number to report it, but it was closed.”
He added: “We sat there for quite a while while talking. The son looked at the teeth of the fish and said, “Now that’s messed up.” Who would put a piranha in a lake? and we all laughed a little but we all thought the same thing. Chad “can’t believe I didn’t get these guys’ names or numbers so I could give them some credit in all of this or talk to them again. They were really good fishermen.
Adam Crocker, Aberdeen Parks and Recreation Manager’s ‘phone exploded’ after the Lake Rays returned and posted the photos to Facebook on Saturday. On Monday morning he contacted the resident ‘fish expert’ of the parks and recreation world and ‘just to be sure I’m right, I have confirmation that there is no way a piranha could have come to Lake Aberdeen on his own. He also added that he had heard many different theories, but believed the fishermen.
Garrett A. Gooch, a wildlife officer with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s law enforcement division, believes “the story is probably accurate.” Before sharing the legal aspects of this ‘adventure’, he said: ‘I would like to confirm that through our office this photo has been verified to be real and has not been altered in any way. »
Biologist Troy Thompson has the title “District Six 1 Fisheries Biologist” for NC Wildlife and he agreed with Crocker and Gooch. “Someone must have helped when our piranha arrived. And if you’re wondering if it would get here via the toilet flush, no.”
Thompson has a theory about the piranha’s journey. “Whoever had this fish probably had other exotic fish. Let’s say you have a big aquarium and you’re paying a lot of money for all those fish. Exotic fish aren’t cheap. Then this little guy starts to nibbling on another fish’s tail, because that’s what they do, they’re literally known for it – and it’s the fish you just paid a lot of money for because of its nice tail. You’re going to go crazy. But you don’t really want to kill it because you’re a fishmonger and you can’t risk giving it away because they’re illegal and you’re not supposed to have it anyway, so you just throw it in the lake.I bet though that many piranhas that person owned are there.
But not for long. Thompson, Gooch and Crocker were all certain that a fish native to the Amazon River could not survive a winter in North Carolina. Crocker also leaned toward the give and run theory. “Every spring we have people dropping off their ducks and leaving. I guess that sounds like the right thing to do. Except that’s not the case.
Both Crocker and Gooch have had heavy piranha spots in the last 48 hours and anticipate more. Crocker insisted: “It will be fine. Piranhas aren’t what people see in movies and even with thousands of them in the Amazon, they don’t just eat random people. Believe me, I’ve been pretty far down the road of piranha research in the last few days, and I can assure everyone that Lake Aberdeen doesn’t flow into the Amazon River and there’s no never had a population of piranhas in the United States.”
Gooch agreed: “There have been a handful of piranha sightings in the United States for a very long time and everyone is saying the same thing: it was probably a pet and someone dropped it off instead. to kill him.”
The closest states to North Carolina that legally allow the purchase of piranhas are Tennessee and West Virginia. One of Ebay’s most reputable sellers, Trin’s Tropical Fish, will not sell to anyone in a state where piranhas are illegal. However, they also have a special this week, 10 red bellied piranhas for $100.
According to the general statute NC 15A NCAC 10C .0211, it is “unlawful to transport, buy, possess, sell or store in public or private waters any species of piranha. The decision to warn or cite a misdemeanor or felony is based on the seriousness of the violation. »
However, no statewide mandate exists in North Carolina regarding the ownership of exotic animals – and exotic fish are considered to fall into this category. Instead, NC allowed each county to make its own decision, and Moore County only allows exhibitors and licensed researchers to have exotic animals.
If all this attention has you thinking about inventing your own piranha sighting to boost your Insta numbers, take it easy. Gooch encourages the public to be aware of North Carolina laws, including those that include wildlife and wild lies.
Even if you don’t have a piranha in your pocket, instigating fear, often referred to as “breach of the peace” law, includes posting to social media whether or not the scary event occurs. Second, the federal “true threat doctrine” protects those who have been frightened into thinking they would be seriously harmed – one of the few types of statements not protected by the First Amendment. If you’re still free at this point, “there’s the whole thing of filing a false report with a law enforcement agency,” Gooch added. As history has shown, it’s all fun and games until you lie to everyone saying you just saw Big Foot.
The sad reputation of piranhas
When Theodore Roosevelt visited South America in 1913, locals wanted to make sure the big game hunter was entertained. Unfortunately for the reputation of the piranhas, one of their ideas was to catch hundreds of fish and starve them for days. When Roosevelt arrived, locals threw a dead cow into the Amazon, then released the fish. Roosevelt apparently thought it was the coolest thing ever. In his bestseller Through the Brazilian Wilderness, he writes:
They are the fiercest fish in the world… Piranhas usually attack things much larger than themselves. They will break a finger of a hand…they will mutilate the swimmers…they will tear and devour alive any wounded man or beast; for the blood in the water excites them to madness.
Then in 1978 the movie Piranha was released. The synopsis begins with “When carnivorous piranhas are accidentally released into rivers at a resort town, guests become their next meal.” In 2010, a remake arrived to scare the next generation, but this time it was in 3-D. Poor piranhas.
According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, the non-Hollywood, non-Roosevelt version of these fish isn’t so bad.
Red-bellied piranhas are red on the underside of the chin and cheeks down to the belly. They have powerful muscles that attach to a short, sturdy lower jaw equipped with triangular, razor-sharp teeth, allowing them to bite with incredible force and shearing ability. They can grow to just over a foot long and weigh up to 4 pounds.
They are found in still and moving sections of the freshwater Amazon River. Their diet consists of tails of large fish, pieces of flesh, whole small fish, insects, aquatic invertebrates, and sometimes plant material in the form of figs and other ripe fruits.
They tend to travel in schools of 20 or more and tend to be most active around dawn and dusk. They also have a lifespan of 10 years or more (without a North Carolina winter).
Thompson enjoyed the past two days and said the public should too. “It’s a good piece of local flavor. It is interesting, educational and fun. No one was hurt, everyone is talking about something different. This is my favorite kind of short story.