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Trip to Sweden was educational

Opinion column

T. Gamble
Feature Columnist

T. Gamble Feature Columnist

I once spent most of a summer in Sweden under the guise of attending a summer law school program there. I did not learn very much about the law, but the experience was nevertheless educational. Women were prone to swim at local town pools topless, which greatly increased the odds that I, too, would be lounging around the town pool on any given day.

By the same token, the men often swam in lakes or bays without any swim trunks on at all. This fact tended to decrease my interest in swimming in the bay or lakes. But, a recent report from Telegraph Media Group may change the habits of the skinny dipping Swedish male.

It seems that a Pacu, a close relative of the piranha, has been discovered in the Swedish Oresund Sound. Reports indicate the Pacu is much like the piranha except bigger and, according to Henrik Carl, a fish expert from a Danish Museum, “they have different teeth. Flatter and stronger, perfect for crushing.” This lead to the National History Museum in Denmark issuing a stern warning to male swimmers, “Keep your swimwear on if bathing in the Sound these days—maybe there are more out there.”

Well, why the warning and why warn only male swimmers to keep your swimsuit on, one may ask? Ah, it appears the Pacu is well known in certain regions of the world, for reasons as described by Mr. Carl, “there have been incidents in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea where men have had their testicles bitten off. “I must confess I have never really heard much about a Pacu in all my years of wandering this earth, but if a friend, casual acquaintance, relative, or even someone I never met, had their testicles bitten off anywhere remotely near where I live, the Pacu would move right on ahead of the great white shark to No. 1 on the list of water creatures of which I am deathly afraid.

If you told me a Pacu had been seen at Lake Seminole, I would not even drive through Donalsonville. I might refuse to eat at Red Lobster. I would not take a bath in deep tub water. South Georgia has enough water threats as it is; water moccasins, alligators, giant catfish and snapping turtles. I’ve always been afraid a snapping turtle might get the wrong idea and neuter me, but as far as I know this has never really happened to anyone. But, Mr. Carl says these fish attack man’s sensitive area because “they are hungry and they fit nicely in their mouth.”

I become extremely nervous when predatory animals and fitting nicely in their mouth are mentioned in the same sentence. Reports even indicate some South American fishermen have died after such an attack. I don’t know if they died from injury or maybe they committed suicide after seeing the results.

I don’t know the whole story, but rest assured, Sweden is off my list of skinny dipping vacations along with all of South America. The people of those locations can thank the Pacu for sparring them such an awful sight.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.