A group of piranhas attacked about 100 swimmers last weekend in Brazil, not far from Teresina, in a place called Calf Dam. They were all treated at a hospital for bites to their heels and toes. Authorities blame the growing population in the area.
Piranhas attack in South American rivers since they inhabit the freshwater. In Venezuela, they are called Caribes. They are known to attack at the beach with razor sharp teeth and a voracious appetite for meat. The piranha population climbing as other fish are decreasing due to the food chain.
“If a fish has a certain pattern of migration,” Andrews said, “the dam throws up a barrier to that migration, unless there is a type of mitigation like fish ladders. You’ve effectively created a kind of habitat that didn’t exist before. That could lead to surges in populations or crashes in population depending,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews said in a statement.
Since there is nothing to challenge their position in the food chain in the local area waters, local environmental official Romildo Mafra said the piranhas attack humans near the beach as their prey. So far, introducing 100,000 tilapia to the area for food could serve as an alternative is one solution environmentalists are testing.
They have been introduced into parts of the United States as aquarium pets, with specimens occasionally found near the beach in the Potomac River, Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and even as far north as Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, although they typically do not survive cold winters.
Piranhas have also been discovered in the Kaptai Lake in southeast Bangladesh. Research is being carried out to establish how they have moved to such distant corners of the world from their original habitat. Some rogue exotic traders are thought to have released them in the waters to avoid being caught by anti-poaching forces.