A triathlete from Ontario, Canada, learned a painful lesson recently while swimming in Lake St. Clair: Muskies might mistake your extremities as prey, and the fish have dangerously sharp teeth.
Matt Gervais, 39, was bitten on the right hand Aug. 13 as he trained for an upcoming event with a friend. “It was a lot of pain [and] it hurt really bad, right away,” he told CTV News.
Gervais was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he received 13 stitches. He’s still awaiting clearance to resume training.
Gervais said that after the muskie struck he looked down and saw that it was still latched onto his hand.
“I caught it eye to eye, underwater with my goggles,” Gervais said, adding that what he saw after the fish let go was “carnage.”
Trevor Pitcher, a professor at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, told CTV News that the muskie probably mistook Gervais’ hand for a small fish.
“The word ‘mistake’ is key because we’re very confident that they don’t intentionally bite people,” Pitcher said. “In reality it’s not very common so humans – and especially human flesh – [are] not part of the muskie diet.”
Gervais, of Windsor, told the Windsor Star: “Some crazy things have happened to me while training, but this is probably the craziest.”
Muskie image is generic
Muskies, or muskellunge, are found throughout much of the northeastern U.S. and as far south as Georgia.
The fish are apex predators wherever they occur and strike with remarkable speed and ferocity, making them incredibly popular among anglers.
According to the International Game Fish Assn., the world record has stood at 67 pounds, 8 ounces, since 1949. That muskie was caught at Lake Court Oreilles in Hayward, Wisconsin.