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Piranha found in London's Thames

piranha teeth
The fish is usually found in South America.

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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a ferocious, carnivorous South American piranha has been fished out of London's River Thames, environmental officials say.

The 4-inch-long red-bellied piranha was dropped by a passing seagull onto the deck of a boat built to oxygenate the river. The Thames was declared "dead" in the 1960s but is now home to 119 types of fish.

"It was very fresh and had obviously only just died. You could see the marks made by the seagull's beak on its back," fisheries officer Tom Cousins said.

Experts were quick to reassure Londoners they need not fear marauding shoals of meat-eating fish. The reputation of the piranha is worse than its bite and despite global warming, the Thames remains too cold to support such warm-water fish.

"We imagine that it was probably released and then floated to the surface where it was picked up by one of the very hungry seagulls and deposited in the boat," London Aquarium curator Paul Hale said.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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