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HomeNL-2012-04 Piranha

Warning:  Piranha in Buffalo Bayou
John Rich

Many reports are being received of piranha in Houston's principal waterway, Buffalo Bayou.  The piranha, scientific name pygocentrus looflirpa, is normally a freshwater fish found in South America.  It seems that aquarium fish collectors prize the piranha for it's razor sharp teeth and ferocious eating habits, much like some dog owners prize pit bulls for their fighting ability and jaw strength.  However, many of those fish collectors subsequently tire of their piranha and release them into Buffalo Bayou when they no longer wish to provide for their specialized care and diet.  The collectors release them to save the fish's life, however, by doing so they also create a dangerous situation for humans.  Although piranha do not survive cold winter temperatures, Houston's mild climate is an ideal habitat for the aggressive carnivorous fish.

Piranha may occasionally attack humans, particularly when water levels are low.  Attacks on humans are usually reported around areas where fish are frequently gutted, and entrails are commonly thrown into the water.  In murky waters like Buffalo Bayou where visibility is limited, they can attack humans who venture into the water without realizing the size of their prey.  Animals are also at grave risk, and they can be reduced to a bony carcass in a matter of minutes by a swarm of hungry piranha.  Increasing numbers of family pets are disappearing from neighborhoods along Buffalo Bayou, and the piranha is a suspect in many of these incidents.


Gary Ekoj, a Texas Aquatic Department (TAD) biologist, advises swimmers and boaters to refrain from entering the waters of Buffalo Bayou, and if accidentally falling in, to get out of the water as quickly as possible.  Piranha could be anywhere in Buffalo Bayou, and their behavior is unpredictable.  If attacked, one should remain calm and exit the water quickly, but without thrashing about or screaming, as that will only excite the piranha into a more vicious feeding frenzy.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen.  This is the best summary that I can provide based upon my independent research into this new danger in our local waterways.  Be careful out there.

Let me be crystal clear here, ladies and gentlemen.  Just in case you haven't figured it out yet, this article is a hoax written in the spirit of April Fools Day.  It's not real.  I've dropped several hints along the way, and I've been "pulling your leg" all along.  Never fear, you are safe from ravenous carnivorous fish in Buffalo Bayou.  Take my word for it.  You're not going to be eaten by a piranha if you fall into Buffalo Bayou.  I don't want to start a panic like the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast.  No family pets were harmed in the creation of this story.  Any resemblance to real people is entirely coincidental and unintended.

 April Fools!