Deborah Netburn writes for KTUU news in Alaska, “Ten miles off the coast of southern Alaska, an insurance adjuster from Seattle caught a neon orange rockfish that is probably more than 100 years old.”
The fish, a type of rockfish called a shortraker, was caught in 900 feet of water, weighed in at 39.08 pounds and is just under 41 inches long. It is the largest rockfish to have been caught by a recreational fisherman in this part of the world and it might be the oldest as well.
[Updated, 10:53 a.m. July 3: For those wondering why the fisherman Henry Liebman did not throw the ancient fish back into the sea immediately after catching it, the answer is that the fish was almost certainly dead by the time he reeled it in.
“When a rockfish caught in 900 feet of water is brought to the surface it usually dies,” said Julie Speegle, a spokeswoman for NOAA’s Alaska region, in an interview with the L.A. Times.
Rockfish have a gas-filled organ called a swim bladder that helps them control their buoyancy. When they are brought up to the surface, the gas in the bladder expands and can cause the bladder to burst, which can kill the fish.]
Scientists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will determine the age of the fish later this week by slicing through its head and removing two small ear bones called otoliths that float in a cavity beneath the fish’s brain.
According to the article, otoliths have rings like trees, which can be counted to determine the age of the rockfish. Netburn goes on to describe the life-cycle of these deep-water fish. Read the full article, click here.