July 2, 2013

Should the 200+-year-old rockfish, caught near Alaska, have been thrown back?

It was reeled in from 900 feet below the surface.

Should the fish have been released?
  
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From the comments at the link: "If it was caught at a 900' depth, it's dead by the time it reaches the surface people. If you throw it back, it'll just float. Still dead."

55 comments:

David Hampton said...

Better to give it a decent burial where it died. Respect the longevity of the fish in it's natural environment. Respect for age and all that...

Clyde said...

Which matches up with what I wrote in the comments on the poll.

I watched a show on one of the nature channels a couple of weeks ago about the effects of water pressure on divers and how long it takes them to acclimate to greater and greater depths and how slowly they have to come back up to avoid the bends, which is caused by the expansion of gas bubbles in the blood. 900 feet is not a great distance if you're walking above ground, but it's a huge distance in water depth.

ironrailsironweights said...

Sushi.

Peter

Nathan Alexander said...

Honor how, exactly?
Honor whom, exactly?

How is the fish honored?
How could the fish feel honored?
What did the fish do to reach 200 years that is remarkable?

At the very least, a 200-year-old fish should be studied, because there is much we can learn from it about extending healthy longevity in humans, not to mention about conditions 200 years ago.

Emotionalism really isn't a good guide for an abundant life.

Scott M said...

Caught: Sport fisherman Henry Liebman caught a rockfish measuring 104 centimeters and weighing 39.08 pounds, it may also be well over 200-years-old

I, myself, often travel 100 kilometers doing 70 miles per hour.

Mogget said...

How would your average fisherman know it was 200 years old as opposed to being, say, a fat teenager of 25 or so? Seems to me it would be dead before any normal person figured it out.

edutcher said...

He had to catch it so see what's in it.

PS Have to agree with Nathan, how do you honor the fish?

(sounds like respect the pizza)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

So if you throw it back, it'll still sleep with the fishes.

Big Mike said...

Rockfish from Chesapeake Bay are very tasty. If the same is true for Alaskan Rockfish then why would you throw away 200 lbs of great food.

Skeptical Voter said...

My brother and I used to go out on the charter boats out of San Diego and San Francisco bays. We'd "bottom fish" for rockfish in anywhere from 400 to 900 feet of water. It's meat fishing--unless you've got a really big fish, you don't have much more than dead weight on the end of the line when you reel them up.

And "dead" is the operative word. The fish's swim bladders expand as they get yanked up from whatever depth they were swimming at. If you "release them" they simply float on the surface of the water until the gulls come get them.

You could try to "save" the fish by using a long needle or sharp object to puncture the swim bladder. Hard to say whether any rockfish subjected to that treatment and "release" did anything but float on top of the water, waiting for the gulls to come.

Larry J said...

Nathan Alexander said...
What did the fish do to reach 200 years that is remarkable?


Well, it survived a very long time in a hostile environment without being eaten. There's that.

MadisonMan said...

39.08 pounds is 17.726 kg. I'm not sure why they have the weight to the nearest gram -- if there's a quarter-teaspoon of water on the fish, that will add a gram of weight.

Baronger said...

Need more information.

How does it taste, and are they any good recipes.

ndspinelli said...

Big Mike, Pacific rockfish are equally tasty, and I agree!

dbp said...

200 is the age, not weight; that was about 40 lbs.

It is doubtful the fish would have survived being thrown back and besides that, they didn't know how unusual this was until they were back on shore.

JRH, esq. said...

How do you know your particular fish is over 200 years old?

Check his ID?

X said...

should have named him Gandolph Fitch

Quaestor said...

As usual I couldn't answer Althouse's poll because the choice of replies was not nearly comprehensive. Loaded is a better word (which my be Ann trying to demonstrate why we shouldn't trust polls).

1) The linked article doesn't specify how the fish's age was determined. "Believed to be..." is the phrase used. Believed by whom?

2) The fisherman is going to have his catch mounted. A waste IMAO, either eat it or throw it back is my philosophy of phishing.

3) If this beast was truly 200 years old I'd say throw it back. Surviving that long is an indication of advantageous genes which would benefit the whole rockfish population, assuming this individual has any fecundity left.

Lipperman said...

David Hampton said...

Better to give it a decent burial where it died. Respect the longevity of the fish in it's natural environment. Respect for age and all that...


According to Alaska fishing regulations, the intentional waste or destruction of any species of sport-caught fish is prohibited.
I believe burying the fish would be considered wasting it.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Having been an Alaska commercial fisherman for a number of years, the idea of "throwing him back" is ridiculous. Having been pulled up from 900 ft. under, the change in pressure has already killed him. Those bugged-out eyes are not his normal appearance. They have been pushed out of his head by blood gases coming out of solution.

Incidentally , red rockfish is one of the most delectable fish in the world, but it must be eaten fresh.

bagoh20 said...

I'm pretty old, and I say eat me!

Augie Fartro said...

Fresh, slathered in buddah!

Quaestor said...

Slathered in buddha?

Lem said...

Should the 200+-year-old rockfish, caught near Alaska, have been thrown back?

No, you don't want the secrets of the universe floating out there for our enemies to find.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

See the google eyes? That fish was doomed when it was reeled to the surface (pressure differential). Some smaller rock fish can survive it, most rock fish cannot.

Methadras said...

People are blaming the fisherman as if he knew what he was going after. He didn't and letting that fish go from such a depth after it was hauled up from there spelled its doom anyway. It's too bad, but I'm sure there are older fish than him down there.

Tibore said...

Yes, what Tyrone said. That fish would not have survived being released.

And yes, I do normally have a respect for fish that live a long life and, when possible, think that the big ones should be released; it's the midrange sizes that are the best tasting, most tender anyway. The cagey, durable fish would contribute the best quality genes to the population's gene pool, so you could argue population improvement via releasing the trophy catches: More spawns due to longer lifespan, and of hardier stock to boot. But, there are limits. I don't know if a fish anywhere near that old can spawn anymore, so if it doesn't, there's no reason to release it other than some anthropomorphically driven feeling of respect.

And like I said above: All that is conditional upon the fish being able to survive a release.

Yes, a 200 year old fish is impressive. But it's foolish to accord too much respect to it. In the end, it's an impressive fish, but it's still just a fish.

dc said...

I took the bleeding heart approach and voted yes.I should have known it would be the wrong answer.

Strelnikov said...

Well, if the fisherman was German he could have kept it for sexual purposes.

Strelnikov said...

"Well, it survived a very long time in a hostile environment without being eaten. There's that."

So have I. All glory to Strelnikov!

elkh1 said...

Yes, it's a living fossil. Kill it, it's a dead fish. Sushi, probably too tough.

Mogget said...
How would your average fisherman know it was 200 years old as opposed to being, say, a fat teenager of 25 or so?

Or a pollution induced gigantism.

lgv said...

The effect of pressure on a fish is different than on a human, but it still would likely cause death.

People used to lure Nautilus from great depth until they realized it often lead to their death. Now it frowned upon, but still done, but the Nautilus only stays shallow for a short period of time.

Dr. Richard Pyle, during his early fish collection years, observed the effect of bringing fish from very deep. The fish did better when he did stops along the way in order for the fish to off-gas. This lead to the theory of deep stops for scuba divers that many advocate today, although the research results are mixed.

YoungHegelian said...

@tyrone,

Those bugged-out eyes are not his normal appearance.

The fish has just been crying his eyes out pining for the fjords, is all.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Oh good Lord, it's already dead!

In my belief system, I can do no higher honor to an animal than by incorporating its protein into my body.

Lem said...

I took the bleeding heart approach and voted yes.I should have known it would be the wrong answer.

I would have done that at one time... but the bleeding harts have bled so much, I don't think they are really alive anymore.

Bleeding harts are zombies to watch out for.

virgil xenophon said...

Rockfish? LOL, at first I thought they'd hooked Jim Garner--then I realized he's now dead. (Remember The Rockford Files and sometime guest star Issac Hays as a fellow ex-con who insisted on calling Garner/Rockford "Rockfish" much to Rockford's annoyance?)

bagoh20 said...

I'm old, and I say: Eat Me!

It would honor me.

If we get in one of those plane crashes in the Andes, or trapped in the snow of the High Sierras, and nobody eats me, I'm gonna be pissed. I suggest putting my head right in the middle of the dining circle and scooping out my brains. That shit is like magic mushrooms. I think a nice presentation would be had if someone could add some nice red lipstick and a little too much blush on the cheeks, and add a cigarette dangling from my lips. Bon Appetite!

Roger J. said...

I believe the posters have described the water pressure issue--there is another issue even for trout caught in a shallow river: adrenaline build up. the longer you play a fish the more stressed the fish gets and survival declines.

Revenant said...

After seeing the photo, I lean more towards "AIEE KILL IT WITH FIRE!".

dbp said...

I was a big fan of The Rockford Files and so was (shortly) saddened that I missed James Garner's passing.

A few web searches say he is still alive at 85.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Second-most-observant commenter at the Daily Mail: "The fish wouldn't have survived the decompression anyway."

Most-observant commenter at the Dail Mail: "He caught Admiral Akbar!"

Mitch H. said...

I took the bleeding heart approach and voted yes.I should have known it would be the wrong answer.


I took the callous bastard approach and voted "eat 'em", and was right for the wrong reason. Am I virtuous in a utilitarian moral universe, or still a bastard before the bar of natural law?

Paul Zrimsek said...

As for all you other Daily Mail commenters: Just pretend it's a fetus and Henry Liebman is wearing pink sneakers. You'll feel better.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

YoungHegelian said...

@tyrone,

Those bugged-out eyes are not his normal appearance.

The fish has just been crying his eyes out pining for the fjords, is all.


Beautiful scalage, the red rockfish.

Joe said...

And I caught a fish THIS BIG!

"It may also be well over 200-years-old."

It may also be 10 years old. Sounds like bullshit to me.

virgil xenophon said...

@dbp

mea culpa I could have sworn I saw something about his death. The perils of slowly fossilizing one's self, lol. I've got 16 more years to last if I'm going to hit Garners mark.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I'm assuming you cut it in half and count the rings.

Valentine Smith said...

They got it just before it died of boredom.

Zeb Quinn said...

"If it was caught at a 900' depth, it's dead by the time it reaches the surface people. If you throw it back, it'll just float. Still dead."

I call BS. Anyone dropping a line 900 feet is looking and hoping for something different, like a 200-year old rockfish.

MadisonMan said...

I'm assuming you cut it in half and count the rings.

Correct. And if you find it is really old, you stitch it back together during a ferocious thunderstorm, re-animate it, and toss it back in. Be very careful to keep it away from fire. They hate that.

dwm said...

i was hoping to avoid those heavy moral choices today... to just stay home, lay low, and watch the orioles game.

AllenS said...

Would someone please explain to me why we don't eat dolphins?

joated said...

Having been hauled up from 900 feet, its air bladder has probably ruptured due to the chnage in pressure. It was/should have been DOA. No way could it have been returned to the ocean and live.

Fritz said...

Rockfish from Chesapeake Bay are very tasty. If the same is true for Alaskan Rockfish then why would you throw away 200 lbs of great food.

Having eaten plenty of both (witness my icon), the Pacific rockfish are much tastier than ordinary old striped bass.

Lem said...

I can hardly believe the outcome of this poll.