Janna Clinton was sitting on the back porch of her Oklahoma home, watching her 11-year-old son’s fishing experience in the tranquil pond behind their house.
Janna jumped out of her seat and rushed to Charlie’s side when he shouted for his mother. Much to her amazement, Charlie had managed to hook a strange creature at the end of his fishing line.
The Clintons’ favorite catch-and-release fish were bass and catfish from the local pond. However, Charlie came across a new species, causing him to seek help from his mother.
“Oh, my God, Mom!” Charlie exclaimed, leaving Janna perplexed by the appearance of the capture. “Honestly,” she admitted, “I thought he was just being dramatic.”
A closer study revealed that the fish had human-like fangs, an unusual characteristic in their regular catches of bass and catfish. She said, “We’re used to catching a few bass or catfish in a nearby pond… I mean, nothing with human-like teeth.”
Despite its unusual traits, the fish proved to be a powerful foe, putting up a valiant struggle. “Charlie stated that it fought valiantly.” Janna proudly recalled, “He was the only one fishing down there and did an amazing job.”
The Clintons, eager to share their unique discovery, shared a photo of the intriguing fish on their neighborhood’s Facebook page, prompting reactions from other residents. Comments flooded through, with one person shouting, “THOSE ARE HUMAN TEETH,” and another asking, “What in the world!?!?” The odd fish indeed drew the interest of the community.
Some community members recommended the family seek advice from wildlife officials. “That is not a catch-and-release situation!” exclaimed one user, pushing them to treat the situation seriously.
“Thank you for taking it seriously,” another said, suggesting they notify wildlife authorities about the discovery. Following that, the family, adhering to the pond’s catch-and-release procedures, returned the fish to its home, albeit unaware of its identity.
Charlie had captured a pacu, a South American relative of the piranha recognized by its square teeth and mild overbite, as opposed to its carnivorous rivals distinguished by razor-sharp fangs and an underbite.
The pacu in the Oklahoma pond’s origins are unknown, but wildlife officials believe it was initially a pet that outgrew its constricted home and was released into the wild.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) chastised the careless behavior on Twitter, writing, “Dear, whoever released an entire Pacu (a South American fish closely related to Piranha) into a NEIGHBORHOOD pond; how dare you.”
The Tweet generated considerable conversation, with many people shocked by the fish’s razor-sharp fangs. Users were left wondering, “WHY DOES IT HAVE HUMAN TEETH?” to which the ODWC responded hilariously, “IDK, WE DIDN’T MAKE THEM,” before sending a severe message about responsible pet care and preventing the introduction of alien and invasive species that could affect local ecosystems.
This was not, however, the first time a pacu had been discovered in Oklahoma. Kennedy Smith, 11, captured a pacu at Marina Cove at Ft. Cobb Lake in 2018, less than two hours from the Clintons’ property.
Oklahoma Game Wardens had already issued a warning regarding the existence of pacu in several fisheries, saying that these non-native species were most likely introduced by people who bought them as pets but eventually released them when they outgrew their aquariums.
Pacu, who may grow to be 3.5 feet long and weigh 88 pounds, gained the terrifying nickname “the ball cutters” due to events in other nations when human body parts were attacked.
As the story gained traction, fish expert Henrik Carl demonstrated how these strange fish could endanger swimmers in specific areas.
He described situations in other places where people were severely injured, underscoring that “they bite because they’re hungry, and testicles fit nicely in their mouth,” highlighting the significance of exercising caution when interacting with such species.
Despite the cold nature of the pacu, Charlie remained undeterred and resolved to catch the elusive fish once more. Janna described how her son spent long hours at the pond, hoping to see another pacu.
After a successful capture, the family intended to have the fish mounted as a trophy for Charlie, a well-deserved reward for his perseverance and angling prowess. “That’s a fantastic award, and he deserves it… “I promised him we’d make the fish smile so you could see its teeth,” Janna boasted.
While the pacu remains a frightening species, one cannot help but sympathize with its terrible journey: being taken from its natural home and then abandoned in a new setting when its owner could not care for it.
Such activities have profound effects, particularly on environmental degradation, making it critical for everyone to interact with nature and wildlife properly and ethically.