At the end of the dry season, with blood in the water, with a person struggling and in distress and an attack by Piranhas is going to happen.

Piranha have a reputation for being aggressive, ruthless and an appetite for devouring people and other animals in seconds of entering the water and there are plenty of stories to keep the myth about the piranha alive. We at Bass Fishing Gurus will separate the fact from the myth.

Piranha Species and the Amazon

The Amazon is filled with two different species of Piranha: the Red Belly Piranha and the Black Piranha. The Red Belly Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) is the smaller of the two species growing to a maximum size of 1 pound/454 grams and no longer than one foot in length. The Black Piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus).

The Amazon is the largest river watershed in the world. Over a fifth of all the freshwater in the world flows through the amazon. It is filled with many of the largest freshwater fish in the world. Many of them have large teeth and it seems that everything in the river is feeding on everything. Some of these freshwater fish grow to severe hundred pounds.

Piranha kills 39 People in a Bus

In the 1970s, a bus carrying over 40 people drove into the Amazon where it was not more than a about 50 feet across. It is not known if the bus driver was asleep or the brakes failed, but 39 people died that day. Even looking at the newspaper records of that time, it is difficult to get any useful facts of the event. It is not known if the people suffered trauma and were bleeding or not. Were the people eaten alive or where the piranhas feeding on people that had already drowned?

There are numerous rumours of people, children and dogs falling into the river and nothing being left but a skeleton in a matter of seconds. Again, there are little in terms of facts around many of these rumours.

Brian Zimmerman says Most are Rumours

Brian Zimmerman, head keeper at the London Zoo’s Aquarium does not know of any documented cases where people were eaten alive. He went on to say that he does not believe that piranhas have ever eaten a living person despite the rumours. He believes the rumours have been over blown.

To back up what Zimmerman says there have been many that have demonstrated that Piranhas do not attack living people by placing their hands, feet and even their entire body in piranha infested waters without a single bite.

However, if blood is placed in the water, they immediately become aroused and are primed. Place dead meet in the water and they will attack yet this is not enough to get them to attack a living person. It appears that there are several other factors to get them to attack.

190 Attacked in 2005

In 2005, some 190 people were reported as being bitten by piranhas and the bite of a piranha is distinct not being confused with an attack from one of the other fish species in the Amazon. It was December, which is the end of the dry season in Brazil. The end of the dry season is also the time that Piranhas spawn and they spawn in the shallows. Each person that was attacked received a single bite and no one was killed. The bites people were received were as a result of coming close to the piranhas nest. The Piranhas were attacking to defend their nests not to feed.

Further upstream in the shallow rivers where the numbers of piranhas are greater and they are densely packed and the risk of attack is greater. Many families that live along the river know of someone or some animal that was stripped to the bone after having falling in the water.

The Fact behind the Myth

At the end of the dry season, with blood in the water, with a person struggling and in distress and an attack by Piranhas is going to happen. If the person is in a weakened state, it is quite likely that they will be eaten to the bone.