A 17-year-old high school senior from Dundalk caught an 18-inch fish in the Loch Raven Reservoir Sunday that state Natural Resource officials say may have been a piranha, but a National Aquarium spokesman said it was more likely a relative of the piranha.
Neither type, according to the officials, would pose a threat to humans.
Jason Taylorson of the 7600 block of Cedar Road caught the fish, which weighed 3 pounds, 1 ounce, about 10 a.m. Sunday while fishing for bass from the side of the reservoir near the boating pier.
Robert Graham, a spokesman for the DNR said department officials think the fish might have been a red-bellied piranha, a fish that eats other fish but is not a threat to humans. The fish probably was sold by a pet store to someone who dumped it into the reservoir when it grew too large, he said. Mr. Graham said the DNR's statements were based on descriptions and that DNR officials had not seen the fish as of yesterday.
John F. Cover, curator of the rain forest exhibit at the National Aquarium, said he doubted the fish was a piranha, given its 18-inch length. Piranha seldom grow more than a foot long, he said.
He said the fish was more likely a pacu, a relative of the piranha that usually eats vegetable matter.
Jason, a senior at Archbishop Curley High School, said he was using bread as bait when he caught the fish as it was swimming about 10 feet from the shoreline. The fish was later weighed at Fearl's Bait and Tackle Shop, an official Department of Natural Resources weighing station in the 7000 block of North Point Road in Edgemere.
Jason said yesterday that he stored the fish in his family's freezer.