Tag Archive: caving


Belizean Piranhas

Known as Pica Culas (ass biters) in Costa Rica, The Mayan Tetra, Hyphessobrycon compressus has a voracious appetite! They belong to the large freshwater family, Characidae which includes the notorious Red Bellied Piranha of the Amazon Basin. While kayaking underground in the heart of the Belizean rainforest, we provided a meal for the Pica Culas!

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A soft layer of hair expands the surface area of a fishing spider allowing it to “walk on water” as it seeks its prey. Capturing a bubble of air, the spider submerges breathing though its book lungs, as it hunts for fish and aquatic insects. It may remain silent on a rock above the water’s edge detecting subtle ripples across the water. As its fore legs sense vibrations, it lunges towards its prey injecting it with venom. I first encountered these impressively large spiders while backpacking through the heart of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. On our recent expedition to Belize, we kayaked through a series of underground caves encountering fishing spiders, roosting bats and “Pica Culas” or Ass Biters, a small voracious fish that shares the same family as the Red Bellied Piranha, Characidae.