Rare Fish Caught in Ohio River

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- When Christopher Columbus set sail across the Atlantic hundreds of years ago, many aboard his crew were afraid of what types of sea monsters might be lurking in the ocean below.

On this past Columbus Day, some people in Huntington were concerned about what types of creatures might be in the Ohio River after one fisherman's startling catch.

"I caught him on chicken liver,” fisherman Dave Robertson said of the fish. “I didn't really know what it was, but it turned out to be a piranha."

You can imagine fisherman Robertson's alarm when he caught what appeared to be a flesh-eating carnivore in the Ohio River, and the news of this unusual catch created quite a splash around Mr. Robertson's neighborhood.

"I've seen big fish come off that hill, but never a piranha," Sheila McCallister said. "I remember the movie, and how they all attacked that one thing. I'm not getting back in that river."

But is the fish Robertson caught really a dangerous predator? To find out for sure, he gave it to the experts at the environmental sciences lab at Marshall University, who debunked the piranha theory.

"It's actually a red pacu," Marshall graduate student Sean Collins said.

The red pacu is a harmless distant cousin of the famously nasty flesh-eater.

"It's a South American fish, so it's very rare,” Collins said. “It was probably brought in from pet trade. Someone probably flushed it down the toilet and it ended up in the Ohio River."

But one man's flushed pet is another man's trophy catch. Robertson decided to keep the fish and name him Fred, and fortunately Fred won't be taking a bite out of anyone any time soon, but that's not to say people in Robertson’s neighborhood won't use a little extra caution around the Ohio River from now on.

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