KUALA BERANG: A giant fish that supposedly caused the deaths of two men on Tuesday could have been the highly predatory and aggressive arapaima gigas.
Fish biologist Dr Mohd Fadzil Suhaimi Ramli said the natural habitat of the fish which could reach 4.9m was the Amazon and Orinoco rivers of South America.
He said the fish that the locals dubbed as ikan naga due to its features that were similar to the mystical dragon could have been released into the lake by someone when it became too large.
“Due to its size, this fish preys on local species which are smaller in size,” he told The Star.
Mohd Fahmi said the arapaima would become aggressive when hungry.
Arapaima gigas have an elongated body covered with large, thick scales and a small tail.
Its wide mouth faces upward and the colour ranges from dark brown to black with blue highlights and red edges, particularly on the tail.
It could leap several metres into the air and its powerful head could capsize small boats on impact.
Meanwhile, villagers at Kampung Baung – that borders Tasik Kenyir – claimed that they have witnessed the monstrous arapaima leaping high into the air on several occasions.
A villager who did not want to be named claimed that he had once sighted a giant fish the size of a baby elephant.
Another villager Mohd Fahmi Mustafa, 25, said his grandfather told him that an old Chinese man appeared one day at the village in the late 70s and released two fish that resembled a dragon into the then Kenyir river.
“My grandpa said the old man had claimed that the fish were from overseas and that he had to release them as they had become too big,” he said.
On Tuesday, bird park supervisor Helmi Sukhri Hisham, 28, drowned after he mysteriously fell off his boat.
State Fire and Rescue Department driver Aladi Hasan, 41, who had gone to the lake to search for him, also drowned.