Bites at Animal Planet

27 Dec

Piranhas Injure 70 People in Argentina

Blog-palometa-500w
Palometa piranhas, similar to the fish seen in the photo, attacked 70 swimmers in Argentina Christmas Day. (Photo Credit: Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images)

A piranha attack on a group of innocent swimmers sounds like something out of a B-rated horror film, but it was the unfortunate reality for dozens of beachgoers in Argentina on Christmas Day.

A pack of piranhas attacked 70 swimmers, whose injuries ranged from small bites, to the loss of fingers and toes, according to ABC News. Local officials say that while an isolated attack can be common, one of this scale and magnitude is unusual. They blamed the attack on a pack of palometa, a piranha species that is “big, voracious and with sharp teeth that can really bite,” as reported by BBC News.

We reached out to River Monsters host Jeremy Wade, who gave us his take on what could’ve motivated the piranhas to snap. He thinks it’s likely that the fish were defending their nests from humans:

“These injuries fall far short of what these fish are capable of inflicting. For this reason I think these are defensive nips rather than evidence of any ‘feeding frenzy,’” Jeremy said.

The damage could’ve been far greater, believe it or not. “If hunger were the motive, and if groups rather than breeding pairs were involved, there would be multiple bites in seconds,” he said.

Jeremy has encountered plenty of piranhas on River Monsters. Check out pictures from his trip to Bolivia to find black piranha and find out how he caught one.

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