A popular Illinois lake is on guard after the discovery in its waters of the exotic pacu fish – infamous for killing men by ripping off their testicles.
Families reported being wary of entering the waters of Lake Lou Yaeger after hearing that a pacu was caught by a fisherman on June 7 and that another one had been spotted two weeks later.
Known in Papua New Guinea as ‘The Ball Cutter’, the pacu has reportedly been responsible for the deaths of two fishermen in the Pacific nation, who died from blood loss after the fish had bitten off their testicles.
Initially thought to be a piranha, the fish caught in June was later confirmed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to be a pacu.
Although part of the same family, the pacu has thicker, sturdier teeth that resemble human ones, unlike the piranha, which is renowned for its deadly serrated incisors.
‘I just got told about it and I am freaked,’ said mother-of-four Deanne Kirkwood to KDSK in Illinois.
‘And now, I am not so sure I want to go in.’
The pacu that are living now in Lake Lou Yaeger were most likely dumped there illegally, but the local authorities were keen to dispel any fears.
‘It is a little scary seeing a fish with teeth,’ said lake superintendent Jim Cadwell.
‘They are not native to this lake or this area.
‘The pacu, they are in the same family as piranha’s, they are related, but piranha’s have very jagged teeth, but pacu’s have teeth very similar to humans.
‘Their main diet is nuts, leaves, aquatic vegetation, snails.
‘If their food supply is limited they will eat other fish.’
Last year, one intrepid British angler reported of a trip he undertook to Papua New Guinea to catch pacu, known locally as ‘The Ball Cutter’.
Fifty-three-year old Jeremy Wade hunted for the legendary pacu after hearing reports of the fish killing local fishermen by castration.
The Ball Cutter boasts an impressive set of man-like molars, which tear off the testicles of unwitting hunters, leaving them to bleed to death.
‘I had heard of a couple of fishermen in Papua New Guinea who had been castrated by something in the water,’ said Wade on his British television program ‘River Monsters’.
‘The bleeding was so severe that they died. The locals told me that this thing was like a human in the water, biting at the testicles of fishermen. They didn’t know what it was.
‘Amazingly, these things are quite elusive so we had to be patient catching one. We put a line into the water and waited for it to bite.
‘When I reeled it in, it had this mouth which was surprisingly human-like, it is almost like they have teeth specially made for crushing.
Like the piranha, the pacu is originally from the Brazilian Amazon and was introduced into Papua New Guinea to increase fishing stocks.
Despite causing some worry in Illinois, most visitors to Lake Lou Yaeger were nonplussed.
‘We have been in shark infested waters and till I see it with my own eyes it ain’t going to bother me,’ said lake-goer Keith Nessl.
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