‘River monster’ in Caloosahatchee catches Cape Coral boy, experts by surprise

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says an arapaima was spotted recently in the Caloosahatchee River in Cape Coral. (Credit: FWC)

An Amazonian river monster washed up recently in the Caloosahatchee River in Cape Coral.

It isn’t the normal friendly catch we’re used to seeing in our waters, and it was found by a little boy named Edmund Getts.

“It was like grey in color and it was like really, really thick head,” he explained.

So, what is it? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it’s an arapaima – and it’s a long way from home.

“From the Amazon River all the way to the Hatchee (sic) River,” Edmund said.

The 7-year-old isn’t telling you a fish story when he says it was bigger than he is. His mom can attest.

“Yeah, the size of my 7-year-old,” said Leah Getts.

FWC confirms the fish is between 3 to 4 feet long.

Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani thinks – and FWC agrees – that someone probably dropped the fish in the river.

“I was pretty surprised initially to see a species that I hadn’t seen before in Florida waters,” Cassani said.

“Some people think it’s one of the largest, if not the largest, freshwater fish in the world. They can get up to 10 feet, weigh a couple of hundred pounds at least, and they can leap out of the water at great heights.”

“They’re kind of incredibly scary when you look at the videos of them. They’re very very aggressive, and having small children makes you a little nervous,” Getts said.

Whether you see it as cool or scary, the fish got Edmund thinking.

“Very very well curious about that fish,” the boy said.

If you find an unusual or non-native fish like an arapaima, FWC wants you to let them know through the I’ve Got 1 app or report it online at IveGot1.org.

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