Swedish men are being warned against any inclination for nude swimming after a new species of fish has been discovered in their waters which enjoys biting testicles.
A 21cm [about 8 inches] pacu fish, a relative of the piranha, was found by fisherman in the Oresund Sound off the south coast of the country last week.
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.
A freshwater fish, it can grow up to 90cm [about 3 feet] long and weigh up to 25kg [about 55 pounds].
Mainly found in the rivers of the Amazonian basin, they have flatter teeth which are very similar to humans and perfect for crunching.
Their diet is mainly nuts, leaves, aquatic vegetation and snails – but on occasion they have been known to enjoy the taste of human flesh.
‘Keep your swimwear on if you’re bathing in the Sound these days – maybe there are more out there!’ the Natural History Museum of Denmark has warned.
‘The pacu is not normally dangerous to people but it has quite a serious bite, there have been incidents in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea where some men have had their testicles bitten off,’ said Henrik Carl, a fish expert at the Danish museum told Sweden’s The Local.
In 2004, The Scotsman newspaper reported that an 18-month-old toddler required surgery after a pacu bit her finger at Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World.
Mr Carl admitted he cannot be sure if there are any more pacu in Swedish waters.
‘They are almost identical to the piranha, you couldn’t even tell from the outside. It’s just that they have different teeth. Flatter and stronger, perfect for crushing,’ he added.
So far, there have been no reports of any pacu attacks in European waters, but after this first sighting, Mr Carl said bathers should be cautious.
‘It could become a problem some time in the future if it’s not the only one. This one was the first, but who knows, it’s probably not the last,’ he told the newspaper.