Splash is back! Sort of... - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Splash is back! Sort of...

By Jamey Boyum - email 
Posted by Elizabeth Thomas – email

ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - In December 2005 one of the world's largest catfish died at the Texas Freshwater FisheriesCenter. Aptly named "Splash" by the man who caught him in 2004, the fish was displayed for over a year, increasing attendance to the Fisheries center by 43 percent.

Well, she's back, or at least her remains.

Splash was the star of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens during 2005. She was right at home in the Dive tank where folks would watch as she was fed by Fisheries divers. But, when it was discovered the tank was sinking…It is pretty heavy…she had to be moved. That didn't go over too well according to Wayne Heaton with the Center. 

"When we moved her downstairs what we come to find out…she had an infection and the stress of her having to be moved actually is what ultimately led to her passing away," He said.

And, like C.S.I. for fish, the National Science Center in Austin found out Splash had that infection from a partial hook stuck in her jaw. Then they went to work.

"They put her in a box with a bunch of beetles and it pretty much removed everything except her skeleton. Now her legacy will continue even though she's not with us anymore." Heaton pointed out.

Heaton would swim with Splash, answering visitor's questions while underwater. He says he misses Splash

"Every day. She was a lot of fun. Being able to dive with her on a daily basis, she almost turns into the family pet." He recalled.

Splash has a replica mounted above his skeletal remains, so Heaton can see her whenever he feels the need.

They have another large catfish, but it's only half the weight of Splash. They do look alike, though.

Splash will be on display permanently at the Fisheries Center in Athens. Admission is 5.50 for adults, and 3.50 for children under 12. The center is closed on Mondays.

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