Remember the opening scene from "The Andy Griffith Show" that showed Sheriff Taylor and his son Opie happily walking up to the ol' fishing hole? Just imagine if that iconic scene ran a few minutes longer and Andy reeled in a viscous-looking fish with human-style teeth. Not even Aunt Bea's famous apple pie could get Andy out of the fetal position.
That's what a fisherman in New Jersey found Sunday when he reeled in a fresh catch from a South Jersey lake called Swedes Lake in Delran. According to ABC affiliate WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, Ron Rossi caught a strange-looking fish sporting what appeared to be human-like chompers.
The fish isn't native to New Jersey's shores -- unless there's some kind of nuclear power plant nearby that's finding creative ways to get rid of its toxic runoff. It's called a Pacu, a fish native to the Orinoco and Amazon river basins in South America noted for having "two rows of molariform teeth," according to the US Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS). So how did it get to Jersey?
Officials from the New Jersey Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) told local media that the South American fish most likely ended up in the lake when a pet owner decided to get rid of it. Sightings of the Pacu fish have been reported at least once in 27 US states since 1982 due to pet owners dumping them in lakes and rivers and escapes from fish farms located in Florida and Georgia, according to the FWS.
"These fish do not survive in colder water, so we encourage people not to release it into the wild but to humanely destroy the fish," DEP officials told WPVI-TV.
The Pacu has a bit of a bad reputation. If you do a quick Internet search, you'll see the phrase "testicle biting" or "testicle eating" crop up in the results. Its reputation as a testicle-targeting fish appears to be unfounded, however, as it doesn't even prefer to eat meat. It's mainly a vegetarian that eats fruits and nuts (the OTHER kind, sickos), according to the US Geological Survey's description of the species.
The Pacu's legendary status as a testicle mangler originated with a professor at the Copenhagen Museum of Natural History, according to a report filed by CNN back in 2013. Zoology professor Pete Rask Moller said he joked with a fisherman who caught the Pacu off the coast of Denmark that men should keep their swimsuits tied up tight so the fish wouldn't mistake their "berries" for, well, "nuts." The Internet can't resist passing along a good testicle joke, so the fish earned its notorious but false label as a testicle attacker.
So in other words, guys, don't worry. The Pacu fish just isn't that into you.