Piranhas in the Chichester Sewers (& Associated Urban Legends)

A flesh-eating piranha.(Image: Greg Hume. A piranha, illustration only)

The sewers of West Sussex may seem a far cry from the freshwater rivers of its native Amazonian basin, but according to a report in the Telegraph, a flesh-eating piranha has been found in the Chichester sewage system. Fear not, though, good reader, as the predatory South American fish was deceased when staff at Southern Water stumbled across it.

Though it’s understood the carnivorous fish likely died of natural causes in its tank, officials told the newspaper that the “only ‘p’s that should go down the toilet were ‘pee, poo and paper.’” Exotic pets are nothing new, so its unlikely that sewage workers or those using the facilities need fear packs of angry, man-eating piranhas as they go about their business.

A piranha fish's razor-sharp teeth.(Image: Andrewself. A piranha fish’s razor-sharp teeth, illustration only)

Nicola Crichton, of Southern Water, said: “Obviously someone who owns exotic animals must have flushed it down the toilet, I don’t think it managed to migrate all this way. People will flush anything down their toilets, we once found a bed sheet at the waterworks, and find all sorts of strange things.”

Despite this, the tale brings to mind other urban legends that have thrilled and terrified city dwellers in equal measure; and in some cases, the term “urban” couldn’t be more accurate. Across the pond in the Big Apple, one enduring myth can be traced back to a New York Times article of 1935. Fast-forward 83 years and tales of alligators in the New York City sewers are as popular as ever.

(Image: .:Ajvol:.)

The Telegraph also referenced a 2008 account in which “the Eastbourne Herald reported that sewer workers at Southern Water’s treatment plant in Eastbourne, East Sussex, claimed to have seen a strange humanoid shadow in the underground passages, which would follow staff.” The newspaper added: “They also reported muffled conversations emanating from behind the tunnel walls.”

Underground spaces, be they priest holes, forgotten “ghost stations” on subterranean railways, sewers or rumours of secret passages have long captured the public imagination and hold an important place in folklore. Who knows what lurks in the shadow lands beneath our busy streets? Thankfully alligators and piranhas are unlikely to be among them.

Read Next: 10 Creepiest Phantoms and Urban Legends of NYC

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