Sharks are among its favorite meals, along with other fish, octopi, and sea turtles.
Sunfish Freaks Out Fishing Dudes – In the summer of 2015, two Boston buddies, Mikey Bergin and Jay Foster, were fishing (and drinking) when they spotted a large creature just off the side of their boat, seemingly lying on its side.
In a profanity-laden series, Bergin seems incredulous at what he’s witnessing. In the span of about five minutes, he surmises the creature is a big sea turtle, a baby whale, a flounder, or a tuna. Mystified about what to do with the creature, Bergin alternately thinks it’s giving birth or dead; considers bringing it to the New England Aquarium; suggests calling the U.S.. Coast Guard; offers to help it; and sees a potential financial windfall by hooking it, hauling it in, and selling it because of the “good meat left” on it. Eventually they hook and release what turns out to be a sunfish. Our narrator friend at one point was convinced the incident would end up on the local news. Even better. the pair were featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Not For Use With Chowder – Brendan Byrne was fishing off the Bonner Bridge in Nags Head, North Carolina, when he reeled in a strange looking yellowish brown fish. Locals on the scene identified it as an oyster cracker, also known as a toadfish. The species is found in the Atlantic from Maine to the Caribbean and can live in less than ideal conditions and with little food. With large protruding fins on its back and sides and an unsightly look, it’s no wonder Byrne quickly tossed it back.
Suit of Armor
– A Malaysian fisherman, Sapar Mansor, hooked a strange looking creature several years ago in the South China Sea that had locals stumped. Pale brown and silver, the fish’s head took up about half its body length. Two fins that looked like tusks jutted out near its mouth. The bottom half was covered from top to bottom with sharp spines, which grow smaller towards the tail. Experts speculated the fish was actually an armored searobin, which is found usually at significant ocean depths. Mansor’s wife, however, was not taken aback, calling the unusual creature a “gift from God.”
Sea Serpents Wash Ashore – In the span of five days in 2013, two giant oarfish washed ashore in California. The world’s longest bony fish, the oarfish can grow up to 50 feet in length. The two that came ashore were 18 and 14 feet long. Thought to be the source of mythological “sea serpent” claims, the fish are rarely seen and typically dive to depths of more than 3,000 feet. What makes the beachings scary? Japanese folklore, oarfish rise to the surface just before an earthquake, which scientists attribute to the species being more sensitive to seismic changes. There may be some truth to the tale as months before the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a dozen oarfish washed ashore or were caught in fishing nets.
A Reason To Shop Online – Imagine going to the store and finding a foot-long pink fish squirming in the parking lot? How about on your front lawn? It happened in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2015. The squirming eel-like beasts were actually Arctic lamprey. The state’s Department of Fish and Game suspects the fish were nabbed by birds who dropped the wriggling critters.
One Captain, Two Tales – Capt. Mark Quartiano nabbed an extremely rare 800-pound hookskate shark off of Miami Beach a few years ago. Very little is known about the species, which normally lives in the ocean floor at 1,000 foot depths. Quartiano said his looked like a dinosaur and was covered in barnacles. He released the 14-foot creature.
Quartiano’s big adventure came just months after he posted a picture of an extremely rare two-headed shark caught by a friend off the Florida coast, though he won’t reveal where.
For anglers looking for a little more adventure, there seems to be no shortage of creatures to reel in.