Occasionally I get emails from friends like the following one:
For all those crazy guys who go 'noodling' for catfish and stick their arms down the fish's throat!! This would be 'all the catfish you can eat',
Each year, a few people were drowning or disappearing mysteriously in Huadu's Furong Reservoir. It was not until recently, when the son of a government official went swimming, in the reservoir and was drowned, that the secret was revealed.
It is a 3 meter (9.8ft) long man-eating catfish whose head alone is 1 meter (3.3ft) wide!
After cutting up the catfish, people were surprised to find the remains of another man inside!
Swimming in the reservoir is now forbidden because it is feared another similar man-eating catfish is still lurking in the waters.
Well, these kinds of emails go around a lot and they are a ton of fun, but they have little basis in fact. The first thing wrong with this photo is that it is not a catfish, but a whale shark that is pictured. Second thing is that the whale shark is an exclusively saltwater fish. Third is that although the whale shark is the largest fish in the world, it is strictly a vegetarian.
The great web site Snopes says that this chain of pictures and story first started circulating in 2007.
There ARE huge catfish in Asia and it is possible (however unlikely) that one may have eaten a human being at one time, but this has nothing to do with anything other than a badly misidentified fish.
The moral of this story: don't believe everything you read, especially in a mass email!
-- Dr. Todd