Dog owners have been warned to be careful after a "freshwater shark" was discovered in a UK river.
Leading nature expert Steve England was stunned when caught a mammoth 4ft long pike in just two feet of water in the River Frome at Snuff Mills, Bristol.
He says the area he caught the fish in is popular with paddling children and dog walkers who let their pets roam free in the water, BristolLive reports.
Steve said the presence of the massive predator in such a shallow and placid stretch of the river had left him stunned.
The fish weighed 18lbs and Steve said it would be the apex predator at the very top of the food chain along the River Frome.
Dubbing the creature "Bristol’s Jaws", Steve said he no longer goes paddling in the water there.
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“These fish are called ‘freshwater sharks’ – their mouths are full of needle-sharp teeth,” he said.
“People do get bitten by these fish – when dipping their feet in the water, it creates a ‘fish in distress’ signal for the pike, and a large one will zoom out of nowhere and bite. It’s why I never paddle in the water at Snuff Mills anymore,” he added.
The picturesque river valley is a wildlife haven which links the Oldbury Court Estate with Eastville Park, and is popular with families with young children and with dog walkers.
Pike can grow even larger – in large rivers and lakes with an abundant food supply, they could grow twice the weight, but even this giant in the River Frome is a potential threat to smaller animals – and children's toes.
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“They will, and do, take very small dogs, and ducks,” warned Mr England.
He was pictured with the fish, wearing protective gloves to prevent damage to the fish’s scales, before returning it to the water.
“You can’t remove the top predator from a small river, or it will upset the food chain. These pike eat the weak and injured, ensuring healthy fish stocks remain.
“It is essential these large predators remain in small rivers as they keep the system healthy by taking weak and sick fish. They also eat smaller pike ensuring that there is no overpopulation of pike,” he added.
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