Goonch: Mutant Fish?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 9th, 2008

Of course, one should consider one’s sources carefully. So when a British tabloid calls something an Indian-Nepali “mutant fish” perhaps we should skeptically report this.

Scientifically, what is being discussed are the fish species of the genus Bagarius.

There are approximately 6 species in this genus: B. bagarius (Dwarf Goonch), B. rutilus, B. suchus (Crocodile Catfish), B. yarelli, B. yarellii, and B. yarrelli (Goonch).

The fish pictured directly above is an ordinary 66 pound gooch caught by the Otter Reserves Sportfishing Conservation group (no, I’m not making the name up) based in New Delhi, India.

The UK’s Sun is noting that the fish shown at top, held by three humans, is being…

…investigated by biologist Jeremy Wade for a TV documentary to be shown on Five.

He said: “The locals have told me of a theory that this monster has grown extra large on a diet of partially burnt corpses. It has perhaps got this taste for flesh by feasting on remains of funeral pyres. There will be a few freak individuals that grow bigger than the other ones and if you throw in extra food, they will grow even bigger.”

Jeremy discounted theories that crocodiles could be responsible for the carnage before turning his attention to goonches – among the world’s biggest freshwater fish.

He caught one which tipped the scales at 161lb and was nearly 6ft long – a world record weight and far bigger than any landed before.

He said: “If that got hold of you, there’d be no getting away.

An 18-year-old Nepali disappeared in the river last year, dragged down by something described as like an “elongated pig”.

But the first victim of a goonch attack was thought to have been a 17-year-old Nepalese boy.

He was killed in April 1988 as he cooled himself in the river.

Witnesses said he was suddenly pulled below the surface.

Three months later a young boy was dragged underwater as his father watched helplessly.

Five’s Nature Shock series starts on October 14 and “Flesh Eating River Monster” is on October 21, 2008, at 8 pm in the United Kingdom.

(Thanks to Earnest Lee for this tip.)

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.


7 Responses to “Goonch: Mutant Fish?”

  1. Sordes responds:

    This bizarre fish is really interesting, but it is very hard to find good information about them. I suppose most people have never heard of them before, and I can understand why it is easy to think it is some kind of mutant, but it is really not respectable to make articles with such stupid headlines like those of the Sun.
    But I would actually not rule out that this fish will feed on human corpses in the water. In contrast to many other catfish Bagarius species have very big and sharp teeth and are surely able to tear of pieces from a carcass, especially when it was for some time in the water.
    BTW, the 161 Ibs is probably not a world record, because earlier this year one of 86kg was caught.

  2. cryptidsrus responds:

    Holy swamoli, that’s a big fish!!!
    British tabloids are even worse than American ones, so I would take whatever they say with a heaping big tablespoon of salt.

  3. tonigreenaway responds:

    Cryptidsrus is right… Our tabloids are terrible and the Sun is by far the worst…. they’d happily print that the Loch Ness Monster had done the can-can in front of one of their reporters if it would sell papers. They usually stick to reporting on all the celeb gossip though, so for them this makes a nice change.

    As for Channel 5 doing a documentary I’d not set much store by that either. Channel 5 has been a flop from the day it began broadcasting. They need something exciting to gain ratings.

  4. Rogutaan responds:

    Catfish can get big. I can’t say I’m surprised by the size.

    Whats with the names though?

    B. yarelli, B. yarellii, and B. yarrelli

    I bet that gets confusing fast in scientific papers…

  5. korollocke responds:

    The eating burned human bodies was a nice touch, but didn’t monster quest cover the whole monster fish eating a child thing already?

  6. giantchaser responds:

    Well, I’d love to understand how these beasts can drag victims underwater and drown them. They don’t seem to be vicious looking, or have teeth.

    Or rope for that matter…

  7. Sordes responds:

    I would not believe in all such things like the killing of people or at least children (although it is possibly not completely impossible). But in contrast to most other catfish the members of the genus Bagarius have very large, even a bit shark-like and very viscious teeth. And they look very viscious (but keep in mind that an animal doesn´t have to look mean to be able to kill a human) .




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