How do people become catfish

Body parts found in fish from the Elbe : The fear of giant catfish in Berlin's bathing lakes

They are always open, are usually less crowded and the water quality is getting better and better - many people prefer the bathing lakes in Berlin and Brandenburg to the outdoor pools. But in contrast to the latter, you never know exactly what else is floating in the lakes. Again and again, and naturally mostly in the summer (hole), frightening reports make the rounds: for example, from two-meter-long giant catfish that have been caught somewhere, devoured a small dog or even "bit" a swimmer.

Only a few weeks ago it became known that anglers in Saxony-Anhalt found a human hand in a catfish weighing around 30 kilograms and more than 1.60 meters long. As reported, the two men from Saxony-Anhalt pulled the animal from the Elbe near Schützberg in the Wittenberg district during the night and discovered the hand while cutting it the next morning. In some media it was said that the hand was skeletonized, but that is not true, says Rüdiger Lessig. He is director of the Institute for Forensic Medicine at Halle University Hospital, where the hand was examined. Because, as always when finding body parts, the criminal police investigate. On the one hand, if possible, the possible cause of death should be determined and, on the other hand, the assignment to possibly missing persons should be checked.

So far no match in the DNA comparison

"The hand was not skeletonized, otherwise the anglers would only have found individual bones," says Rüdiger Lessig. "It was already evident that it was a human hand, even if the catfish had already partially digested the soft tissue." It was possible to determine that the hand must have belonged to a man and more recently - for example in the past three years - got into the water or in the catfish. "So it is not about body parts that come from the war, for example," says Lessig, who has never encountered such a case before.

The comparison of the hand DNA with that of missing people or a dismembered corpse also found in the Elbe has so far not shown any matches. Since nobody reported a hand as “missing” or “lost”, one must assume that the person to whom it belongs is dead.

Nothing can be said about the cause of death, however, whether the man fell victim to a crime, suffered an accident or committed suicide is unclear.

The only thing that is certain is that the catfish could not have bitten off the man's hand while he was still alive, says Uwe Brämick, director of the Institute for Inland Fisheries in Potsdam: “The catfish can indeed open its mouth wide and enclose prey with it can hold on well, but nothing more. So he'll grab a rat or a duck from time to time.

Very old and very large catfish

Biting a man's hand off, but his teeth are not suitable for that. ”In addition, humans are not part of the catfish prey scheme at all, says Brämick. "A meeting can only occur in absolutely exceptional situations - for example, if you come too close to the clutch of a catfish at spawning time."

Perhaps the swimmers in the Schlachtensee, where the water is not too deep and warm, was fatal. The catfish come there to spawn from May to the beginning of July and sometimes snap when they feel disturbed.

Catfish, also known as catfish, have increased tremendously in the region's lakes, says Andreas Koppetzki, the managing director of the Brandenburg State Anglers' Association: “There were very few in the GDR era, but the waters have become warmer, and spawning can occur more often than develop into larvae earlier, we now have a lot of very old and very large catfish. "

When anglers go for catfish, they use what is known as catfish wood, which makes a dull, smacking sound when pushed into the water and attracts catfish. It is easy to imagine that other, similar noises might draw the attention of the big fish.

In general, in order to avoid a meeting, it is completely sufficient to stay in the open water and not walk or swim through reeds or other places with dead wood and branches. In case of doubt, other animals such as pike can also be found there, but they spawn as early as February. By the way, they can also get very large, Koppetzki has already caught a meter long pike, in whose gastrointestinal canal a 60 centimeter long fellow has just been digested. But people don't usually attack them.

However, animals introduced by irresponsible people are more dangerous. Snapping turtles, for example, or even piranhas. Every now and then stories about piranhas appeared in some lakes, says Koppetzki. But sometimes he suspects that these are being scattered by residents of the weekend houses who want to be undisturbed. "When they then say that two piranhas have been sighted, they have their bathing lake all to themselves."

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