Red-bellied piranha discovered in Nanaimo lake
A red-bellied piranha discovered in Nanaimo. (Conservation Officer Service/Facebook)
NANAIMO -- A tropical red-bellied piranha was reeled in by a surprised fisherman in a Nanaimo lake last week.
According to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS), the predatory fish, which is not native to Vancouver Island, was discovered in Westwood Lake.
The BCCOS says red-bellied piranhas cannot survive Vancouver Island's chilly winters and believes that the animal was probably abandoned in the lake by a pet owner.
"It is a common aquarium fish, and this is likely the release of an unwanted pet," said the BCCOS in a Facebook post on Friday.
It is not the first time that a piranha has been found on the island. Earlier this summer, another piranha was discovered in the very same body of water.
While the red-bellied fish was unlikely to survive the winter, the BCCOS is reminding residents that it is illegal to release an aquatic invasive species on the island.
"The COS would like to remind the public that introducing an aquatic invasive species can have harmful impacts, including threatening native fish, ecosystems and other species," said the service
Anyone found releasing an aquatic invasive species can face fines of up to $100,000 or up to 12 months in prison.
Anyone who spots a new invasive species, or suspects that someone is releasing them, is asked to call the COS report hotline at 1-877-952-7277.