That is Splash the Catfish looking at you. Splash was caught in Lake Texoma back in 2004, caught, captured and hauled to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, Texas, where Splash took up residence on January 14, 2004.
At the time of her captivity, Splash was the World Record holder as the largest Blue Catfish ever caught, at 121.5 pounds. Splash held that record until 2005 when a 124 pounder was caught in the Mississippi River.
Splash quickly became the Star of the Fisheries Center, with large numbers showing up to watch the daily dive show, when Splash was fed chicken, herring and mackerel.
On the 1st anniversary of the arrival of Splash, around 800 people showed up to celebrate, including 133 school kids who brought Splash birthday cards.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Scientists estimate that Splash was at least 23 years old when she suddenly died in December 2005.
A life-sized replica of Splash is currently on display at the Fisheries Center. It is estimated that Splash is survived by thousands of descendants in Lake Texoma.
Splash the Blue Catfish was brought to my mind this morning by the Wild Woman of Woolley, Betty Jo Bouvier.
Betty Jo sent me an article about a Giant Catfish that had been caught in China's Huadu Furong Reservoir. This Giant Catfish was 9.8 feet long, 3.3 feet wide. After cutting the fish open the remains of a man were found inside.
Apparently there had been a problem with swimmers disappearing while swimming in the reservoir, including, recently, the son of a government official. Now that the Chinese realize they have Man-eating Catfish lurking in their reservoir, swimming is banned.
I got back in a Texas lake after my near fatal encounter with an out of control Turtle, but seeing a Garfish for the first time, that was far more unsettling than a Turtle. I have not been swimming in a Texas lake since I saw my first Garfish. I don't know if the Lake Texoma Catfish descendants of Splash are big enough to eat a man. I suspect not.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is located at 5550 FM 2495, four miles east of Athens. Fish in the dive tank may be viewed any time the center is open. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Dive shows are at 11 a.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays.