Hawaiian Mystery Fish
The crew of Sea Strike stumbles upon a strange creature off the Kona coast.
- Published:January 18, 2013
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From his seat on the flybridge Dale saw what appeared to be a long, shiny, metallic object lying motionless just below the surface of the water, and Jack noticed fresh blood in the water and realized that it must be some kind of animal. The creature was long, thin, and seemed to be missing its head and tail.
"Due to the presence of blood in the water, the Leverones assumed they had interrupted a shark as it was attempting to eat the mystery fish."
During a lull in the fishing action, Jack posted photos of the fish on Facebook, and a small group of fishing friends hit "Like." As the pictures began to circulate around the web, they sparked further interest into the story. Between Hawaiian fishing expert Jim Rizzuto and two NOAA fisheries biologists, no one wanted make a definitive call on the creature's true identity. The fish had lost its head and tail to predation, which made it nearly impossible to match it up with any of the different species that shared the same silvery, snake-like body structure. Initially, the most likely possibilities for a match were an Oarfish (a species of Lampiphorm) a Hawaiian Ridge Scabbardfish (a species of Cutlassfish) or a King of the Salmon (a species of Ribbonfish), but no one really knew for sure.
When the Leverones returned to the docks in Kona that evening, they cut some fillets off the fish (bringing new meaning to the term "mystery meat") and disposed of its carcass. Many deep ocean fish are actually quite tasty, and they planned on cooking the fish for a once-in-a-lifetime meal. The Leverones ended up discarding the meat when they arrived home and found that the fillets had turned to a jelly-like substance in the bag. Although oarfish are known for having gelatinous flesh, there wasn't enough physical evidence to suggest that this was the species at hand.
It has been a month since the fish was discovered and its true identity has yet to be determined, but several reliable sources have narrowed down the possibilities to one distinct species, the Razorback Scabbardfish. This rare species of cutlassfish is known to grow to a length of around 2.5m(8.2ft), which corresponds to the size of the headless carcass found by Jack and Dale. Not only that, subtle markings on the skin of the mystery fish look similar to those found on the Razorback Scabbardfish, and its geographical distribution does not rule out its presence in the waters off Kona. Regardless of the creature's true identity, the Leverones' discovery demonstrates how little we still know about the creatures that inhabit the ocean's depths.
Story courtesy of Jon Shwartz. Visit Jon's blog at
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