Swimming with Piranhas

Los Llanos, Venezuela - Oct. 2009

Fishing for Piranhas, then jumping into the water with them!

Swimming With Piranhas

  • While in Venezuela filming an episode of Angry Planet, I knew I wanted to do something with piranhas since they have such a reputation for being vicious killers, able to strip a human to the bone in mere minutes. Well, these kinds of stories, although possible, are rare or exaggerated and I wanted to prove that you CAN safely swim with these fish under the right circumstances. We started off by finding a pond that was just FULL of them. This pond was downstream of a large cattle ranch and I was more worried about possible e-coli contamination than piranha attack. We fished for them and it took mere seconds before we had one biting at the raw chicken we had on the hook. The water would boil with frantic fish as soon as the meat hit the surface of the water... Perhaps swimming with them was not such a good idea.
  • After catching a bucket of them, we brought them back to our home base for the night and had them cooked up for dinner. Piranhas taste very good and I found it ironic to be eating a fish that could be capable of eating me.
  • The next day, we went out in search of more piranhas that were in clearer water and it didn't take long until we encountered a perfect pond that had thousands of them. We tested the waters by throwing in more chicken and again, within seconds, the splashing of hungry piranhas broke the surface. I some talking to the camera about how the piranhas are really only dangerous in the dry season and that if you don't have any open cuts, there should be little danger. Even after studying them in theory and understanding that the risk was relatively low, the fact that the water level was low, the fish were very excited and they had already been tempted by raw meat didn't make me any less nervous. As soon as I jumped in, I was expecting to feel a nip but it never came. They were not too interested in me but if one curious fish had decided to give me a bite, the blood could have started a feeding frenzy so I chose to keep my time in the water limited to just a few minutes.
  • Piranha_01


    A typical pond where the piranhas live. Notice the 2 caimans on the shore.

    A large Red Bellied Piranha with some very impressive teeth. The blade-like teeth interlock so well that they don't even bother to kill their prey, they just nip chunks out of an animal and eat it alive.



    Just joking around, but in reality, the piranha jaws are strong enough to bite a finger off.

    What eventually became dinner... Fried Piranha.



    Fishing for Piranhas beside a pond. The water was FULL of them!!

    A closer look at the Piranha's weaponry, the notorious teeth.