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!).
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!