Stories tagged goonch


This catfish is a small one: And it still wants to eat you.
This catfish is a small one: And it still wants to eat you.Courtesy Andyrob
The title of this post might be more accurate if it were something like “Mutant, man-eating catfish: probably not real,” but that one doesn’t thrill me so much. A lot of stuff has been spilled, leaked, excreted, and written on the Science Buzz’s cryptocouch of cryptozoology, but none of it looks like “probably not.”

So get a load of this: goonch catfish in the Kali River, which separates India and Nepal, are rumored to have developed a taste for human flesh and some locals think that they are now targeting human swimmers as prey! Whoa!

Bagarius yarrelli, or the goonch catfish, will commonly grow to a length of around 6 feet, and may weigh over 150 pounds. The story has it, however, that a particular goonch (or goonches) have grown exceptionally large off of a rich diet of partially burned human corpses thrown into the Kali River with the remains of funeral pyres. Not content with the charred leftovers of this nutritious delicacy, the goonch (or goonches) has been seeking out fresh meat.

Over the last twenty years, there have been a multitude of cases of bathers being pulled beneath the surface of the Kali, never to reappear. The most recent reported case involved an 18-year-old Nepali being dragged down into the river by something looking like “an elongated pig.” (Shut up! Shut up shut up shut up! Catfish can look like “elongated pigs,” okay?)

Isn’t that awesome? Mutant, man-eating catfish? Pretty sweet, especially if you don’t live by the Kali River.

Heck, I’d say you could stop reading now, if you want. I’m just going to go over a couple other points, which I think are more or less incidental. Not. Worth. Considering. Everything is so cool as it is, why would you want any more?

So. The mighty, carnivorous goonch… Mighty indeed is the goonch—the current world record holder comes in at 6 feet and 161 pounds, and this site claims that goonch weighing between 300 and 400 pounds can be observed in areas where fishing is not allowed (and, presumably, these are un-mutated specimens). “Carnivorous” is accurate too, although, well… generally B. yarrelli is thought to feed on aquatic insects, smaller fish, and prawns.

To describe the huge catfish as “mutants” might be a little sensationalistic too. Technically, to be a mutant something has to have a new genetic characteristic. To the best of my knowledge, eating people shouldn’t actually cause your genes to change. Unless those people were radioactive, or something, but in that case you’d probably just get cancer, not grow really big.

And there’s one other thing, one tiny little thing. I noticed that many of the websites for Kali River resorts and lodges (Bip, Boop, Bip) mention that large crocodiles can frequently be spotted in the water. But, you know, just because there are crocodiles around, and crocodiles have been known, on occasion, to pull people into the water and eat them, and people in this particular river have been pulled into the water and probably eaten… that doesn’t necessarily mean that crocodiles are responsible. Really, it could be anything.

Like, maybe, mutant, man-eating catfish.