There's a new phantom to add to the list of nightmare-inducing creatures: catfish.
Bagarius yarrelli, a species of giant catfish called 'goonches,' have reportedly begun preying on humans. The fish are native to the Great Kali River in India, generally feed on insects, fish and prawns and grow to a length of about 6 feet. But locals believe that the fish have begun changing their habits due to a rich diet of partially-burned human corpses (which are, by tradition, buried in the river). The belief is that by eating flesh the goonches have not only grown larger, they've developed a taste for fresher human flesh, too.
In the past few decades, there have been multiple cases of people being dragged underwater, never to resurface. The most recent reported case involved an 18-year-old Nepali being dragged down into the river by an unknown creature. The story is being investigated English fisherman and TV personality Jeremy Wade. He has already caught a goonch that was 161 lbs. and over 6 ft. long, large enough, perhaps, to drown a swimming human. His search for the man-eating catfish is being covered by British TV station Five in an episode entitled 'Nature Shock: Flesh Eating River Monster.' The documentary is due to screen on October 21 at 8.00pm on Five (credit for image).
Five said that "eyewitnesses have only the briefest glimpse of a dark shape pulling the teenagers under, but this is enough to lead them to believe that the killer is a monster, shaped like a huge elongated pig able to swallow its victims whole." Wade has immediately discredited the theory that crocodiles are responsible for the attacks, saying, "If a crocodile were to have perpetrated these attacks on humans, stories about me would not have appeared in a few crappy newspapers, thereby making it highly unlikely that crocodiles are to blame and much more likely that giant mutant catfish who normally subsist on a diet of small prawns and insects are the culprits."
I guess we'll have to wait and see what the researchers have uncovered. Are there really giant, man-eating catfish? Maybe. Either way Hollywood could make a few bucks off a poorly-acted horror movie - although "Goonches!" doesn't quite have the same ring as "Anaconda!"
Monday, October 13, 2008