Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Piranhas in the Water

I don't discuss it here very often, but urban legends and tall tales are another fascinating part of folklore that I relish. I know I'm not alone. The internet has increased the ease of distributing information and urban legends are included. We have all seen the emails and read the articles with crazy stories. We've also seen the truth and debunking on helpful sites such as

One of the interesting effects of the Nashville and surrounding area floods will be the stories that arise from it. Many are inspirational and sad already. Some fall into straight urban legend and will be disseminated over and over again in the years to come.

It's early days--we are still wondering if we will have water this weekend if the area doesn't conserve enough and if the second treatment facility isn't repaired in time after all--but the best story so far is of the piranhas.

Near the Opry Hotel and Grand Ole Opry facilities is a mall, Opry Mills. (Or if you are in my family or some friends, Shopry Mills.) This is the home of several of the gimmicky chain restaurants such as Rainforest Cafe and The Aquarium. (The REAL and very excellent Tennessee Aquarium is in Chattanooga.)

Well, Opry Mills was flooded and one of the tales going around, even reported as news, is that all the fish had died since most were salt water based, except for the PIRANHAS which had escaped and were swimming around the mall and would soon escape into the Cumberland River.

My husband shared the story which he'd received from friends on Facebook. I immediately did a search to learn the truth. Already Google had a key word suggestion of "piranhas Nashville" to be used. I clicked it and went reading.

I found this first, Escaped Piranhas, Floating Buildings: the Strangeness of the Tennessee Floods:

As if that wasn't odd enough, WKRN in Nashville ran this video piece in which a reporter said that piranhas had escaped from their aquarium and were at large, swimming the inundated halls of the Opry Mills Mall.

The Opry Mills Mall is a pretty big place, and it's just been humbled -- like much of the Nashville area -- by the swollen Cumberland River.

If you watch the video I linked to in the quote above, the information I was given was accurate to the report, so it at least hadn't had time to grow and change in classic "telephone" mode.

Either way the story has grown and spread, for The Tennessean and other news outlets are now working to debunk it or "contain" it as the case may be, From Nashville Aquarium Restaurant: No piranha loose; most fish OK:

Most of the fish at The Nashville Aquarium Restaurant, Stingray Reef and the Rainforest Cafe, at Opry Mills survived the flooding in Nashville and have been contained.

Owned and operated by Landry’s Restaurants, Inc, the restaurant spokesman reports that aquarium biologists have been onsite since Monday caring for the fish that survived.

Landry's issued the statement in response to local media reports that piranha were at loose in flood waters at Opry Mills. The mall is closed because of flooding.
Nevertheless, I imagine I will hear stories about the piranhas for years to come when the "Splashville" flood is discussed.

The image came from Can piranhas really strip a cow to the bone in under a minute?  More fun reading!

1 comment:

  1. Of course the mall is closed because of the flooding...that's kind of obvious, but they (Landry's) did not directly address the reports about the piranhas. Saying that "most...have been contained" is not exactly clarifying the situation. I assumed it was mostly rumor, but the fact the Landry's response was so vague makes me wonder now.