This fish tale is no lie: A Seattle fisherman plying the waters off Sitka, Alaska, snagged a record rockfish that might be as much as 200 years old.
Besides being 40 pounds it was at least a century old, and quite probably two.
Weighing in at 39.08 pounds, the shortraker broke the previous record of 38.69 pounds, which had been the biggest such fish ever caught on sportfishing gear, the Sitka Sentinel reported. To boot, it might have been as much as 200 years old, said Troy Tidingco, Sitka area manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, to the Sitka Sentinel.
“The rougheye is the oldest-aged fish at 205,” Tydingco said, adding that shortrakers don’t tend to live longer than 175 years, but that this fish was much bigger than the previous record so has a shot at being older.
“I knew it was abnormally big [but I] didn’t know it was a record until on the way back we looked in the Alaska guide book that was on the boat,” said Henry Liebman, the Seattle insurance adjuster who caught the fish, speaking to the Sitka Sentinel.
Liebman caught the long-lived animal in about 900 feet of water, the newspaper said. It was probably dead by the time he brought it to the surface, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"When a rockfish caught in 900 feet of water is brought to the surface it usually dies," said Julie Speegle, a spokesperson for the Alaska region of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to the Los Angeles Times.
The reason, the L.A. Times said, is that the fish’s swim bladder, a gas-filled organ that helps them remain buoyant, bursts when the gas expands as they are brought toward the surface. This can kill the fish.
The fish’s exact age is being determined by studying the otolith ear bones, which are housed in a cavity just under the fish’s brain and contain formations akin to tree rings that help determine age, according to LiveScience.com.