Members of the public in Thundersley, Leigh and Westcliff have been told to remain calm but stay vigilant at all times after a local environment official confirmed that 50 piranhas have been accidentally released into the Prittle Brook – the meandering waterway that runs from Thundersley to the River Roach in Rochford. At the time of writing, only 11 of these have been intercepted by a trap net at the Rochford end of the brook, and aquatic experts have said that the majority of the missing fish would have found refuge in the highly-populated stretch between Leigh and Westcliff.
South Essex Environment official Percy Sludge said: ‘Due to the irresponsible actions of a homeowner in West Wood in Thundersley, 50 of these flesh-eating fish escaped from a domestic garden piranha pond just after 9am today – the heavy rainfall caused his pond to overflow into the brook and the fish grabbed their chance to escape. Although we have managed to remove some of the fish at a temporary incident centre that has been set up round the back of Purdeys Industrial Estate, we have reason to believe that the rest of them are hanging around in the Westcliff and Leigh sections of the brook – a lady in Fairfax Drive has already reported that her Scottie Terrier was attacked at around 10.30am.’
He added: ‘If you spot one of the piranhas near your home, you must not approach it under any circumstances – a qualified fish handler from the Yellow Pages will be able to remove it safely in the necessary layers of protective clothing that must be worn when handling potentially lethal aquatic wildlife. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind people that piranhas must be kept responsibly in a domestic environment, and that more must be done to reduce the 67 piranha-related deaths that were reported locally in 2015.’