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Posted on Sep 4, 2007 in Top Shots
Fish Story? Check Snopes First...

The world of fish offers yet another area ripe for misinformation at the least and hoaxes at the worst. I was reminded of that today when an old buddy of mine - who does some fishing but isn't widely traveled - sent me images of a very large tigerfish, it's frighteningly oversized conical teeth protruding from both jaws. I've seen this several times in the past week or so, in most cases sent wanting to share -per the information so thoughtfully provided by some sender thousands upon thousands of e-mails (but only a matter of days) ago - stating unequivocally that this piranha shows why you sure don't want to go swimming in Brazil!

I can only wonder how many people take emails such as this at face value - and can only guess: many if not most.

Not only is this not a piranha, but: it's a very different species; its teeth are nothing like those of piranha; it gets much, much larger than any species of carnivorous piranha; its shape is long and narrow whereas a pirana is compact like a dinner plate; since it lives in southern African rivers, no tigerfish will ever bother anyone in Brazil; and as far as I know (unlike piranha) it is not considered to be dangerous to swimmers.

Besides setting the record straight, this seems like a good opportunity to remind folks to be skeptical... be very skeptical -- of most things you read or see on the internet (except, of course, in this blog!).

When uncertain, there's no place like www.snopes.com, debunker of a zillion urban legends. Indeed, you'll find this bit of baloney addressed at www.snopes.com/photos/hunting/piranha.asp.

Remember the image of a big shark shadowing an apparently unaware kayaker (the shark dwarfing the kayak!) that, if you're like me, you received from 10 different sources? Well that one is legitimate - and Snopes has the story (at www.snopes.com/photos/animals/sharkkayak.asp).

If Snopes isn't one of your internet "favorites," it ought to be; check it out next time you get an e-mail that seems ... a little fishy!

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