By Naomi Cohen
An 11-year-old girl’s fishing trip turned dangerous when she fished a red-belly piranha out of Brooks Pond in Staten Island last week.
“It was a fat, sassy fish,” Kaitlyn Crabbe’s grandfather Robert Crabbe, 63, told the New York Times. After a struggle with what she thought was a turtle, Kaitlyn showed her grandfather the flopping fish. Mr. Crabbe removed the hook and waited until it died to refrigerate it.
“You have dogs running into the pond and people canoeing in there, and if they put their hand in, they might take it out and not have a finger,” Kaitlyn said.
Mr. Crabbe brought the fish to the Staten Island Zoo to confirm its identity. Red-belly piranhas are native to the Amazon but are common in pet stores. Mr. Crabbes said he thinks the former owner released the fish into the pond when it ate too much. It may also account for the recent drop in other types of fish in the pond. Senior zookeeper and aquatics specialist Walter Levendosky told SILive that the piranha was unlikely to eat anything except other fish.
The pond prohibits dumping fish without a permit, and the Department of Environmental Conservation is checking the area for other piranhas. Though others have been spotted in the five boroughs, piranha reproduction is unlikely.
“Our normal response is to take note of the catch and discourage return of the fish to the pond or lake. If the fish were suspected of successfully reproducing we might perform additional surveys to determine the extent of the reproducing population,” DEC spokesman Rodney Rivera told SILive.
Kaitlyn’s catch is 10 inches and 2 pounds 3 ounces. Mr. Crabbe said he is afraid that other children, like Kaitlyn, wouldn’t recognize a piranha and could have a finger bit off if unsupervised.
The Crabbes usually release the fish they catch, but this time, the piranha will stay buried in their backyard.
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