Miami Herald

Oklahoma Girl Catches Toothy South American Piranha Relative

An 11-year old girl caught one unusual, toothy fish in Oklahoma.

Kennedy Smith, 11, was fishing with her grandmother when what she thought was an unusual bluegill bit her nightcrawler. Then, it bit her grandmother, too. It turns out the fish young Kennedy caught wasn't a bluegill at all, but rather a pacu, a relative of the South American piranha.

Smith, of Lindsay, was fishing in Fort Cobb Lake, about 50 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. Her grandmother, Sandra Whaley, tried to remove the hook from the fish when it bit down hard on her finger. The two anglers looked inside the fish's mouth a were astonished to see a set of human-like teeth.

"I was confused because I knew that fish with teeth are not normal," Smith told the Associated Press. "It was weird. They were human-like and that made it even weirder."

Wildlife officials suggested that the pacu got into Oklahoma waters as a result of someone buying them as pets and releasing them.

Smith's pacu weighed around a pound, but Oklahoma Game Wardens indicated that these fish can grow up to 3.5 feet and 88 pounds.

Surprisingly, this isn't first time someone's caught in Oklahoma waters. Anglers call wildlife officials every three to five years to report such catches.

Pacu are obviously considered an invasive species that can do great harm to native fisheries. The omnivorous fish primarily feed on plant material. Oklahoma anglers who catch pacu are asked to remove them and contact their local game warden.

The wildlife department took possession of Kennedy's fish and destroyed it.

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