Piranha-Like Fish Found In Essex Waters!

A Long, Long Way From Home
Tropical Fish Found In Eastern Baltimore County Waters

Article & photos by Ben Boehl, East County Times, June 2008

It was a typical Sunday morning at the Atteberry house on June 15. The family lives on the water in the Bowleys Quarters area and their young son Wesley went to check the crab pot. Wesley’s father, Glen, said the family has found all kinds of materials in the crab pots. Sometimes they found fish and crabs and other times they found someone’s trash floating in the pots. But on June 15, Wesley found something that shouldn’t have been there – a South American freshwater fish called a pacu was found swimming in the trap. We caught all kinds of things before, but he (Wesley) knew it wasn’t something usual, said Glen. It took a while for Glen to figure out what type of fish he had encountered and what to do with this fish. He called up several different government departments before he was told that the 13-inch fish was a Pacu, which is in the same classification as a piranha. The Atteberrys were told to destroy the fish because it is a danger to our ecosystem. The mystery remains how the fish made it here from South America to Galloway Creek in Bowleys Quarters.

The biologists were surprised that the fish was still alive, Glen added.

This is the second time that a South American fish has been found in our waterways within the past two years. In September 2006, a fisherman caught a piranha in Stansbury Pond in Dundalk.

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website, pacus have sharp teeth and are very aggressive. They can only survive in tropical weather. Since pacus and piranhas can be found in local pet stores, some scientists have theories that when a tropical fish owner gets tired of the fish, he/she will discharge it go into our local waterways.

It makes you wonder if there are anymore fish out there that we don’t know about, said Glen’s wife Debbie.

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