KERMAN, Calif. — A flesh-eating piranha--considered the most dangerous of fish--has been found in the San Joaquin River in western Fresno County, far from its native South America, state Department of Fish and Game officials said Tuesday.
Officials were dispatched Tuesday to see if any more piranhas are in the water along a stretch of river where one was found north of Kerman near California 145 and Modoc Avenue.
Chris Long, a state Department of Fish and Game warden, found the 15-inch, two-pound fish Monday after receiving a tip that a fisherman had caught it on Independence Day.
Department biologist Bill Loudermilk confirmed that it was a piranha, which are illegal to own in California because of the danger that they will eat the flesh of humans.
"It was a good healthy fish," Loudermilk said. "The growth pattern and the scales indicate it did come from the river."
Calling the razor-sharp teeth "pretty awesome," Loudermilk said he cut the piranha open and found that it had eaten some rubber bands along with more mundane things like crayfish and plants.
Fish and Game officials also were checking a rumor that another fisherman had caught a piranha. Loudermilk said, however, that chances of the pair propagating are slim.
"We are not going to kiss this thing off, though," he said. "We will do some sampling in that area right away."