Miscellaneous

Rarest Catches

72 percent of the Earth is covered in water and in our six ocean realms, (the human edges, hidden boundaries, light and dark zones of the central waters, active geology, ice and microscopic) all kinds of species, from the known, unknown to the unknowable have garnered the interest of fisherman and marine experts alike. While a boat license may allow you to operate motorized watercrafts of all kinds, there are certainly no licenses for catching any of these rare species!

According to the Census of Marine Life, several hundred thousand species exist in the bottom water and many may remain unknowable.

Many species may never be caught and named, but here's a look at some of the most incredible and rare catches that human eyes have had the chance to see.

Megamouth Shark

Megamouth Shark

Image source: FLMNH

In April 2009, fishermen in the Philippines caught and later feasted on a 1,100-pound, 13-foot megamouth shark. The megamouth is one of the rarest fishes in the world with only 40 others recorded, (now 41), according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The first megamouth was discovered in Hawaii in 1976, prompting scientists to create a new family and genus of sharks. The discovery was hailed as the marine find of the 20th century, rivaling the discovery of the coelacanth in the 1930s.

Characteristics: As their name implies, megamouths have a large mouth with small teeth, and a broad, rounded snout. The mouth is surrounded by luminous photophores, which may act as a lure for plankton or small fish. A relatively poor swimmer, the megamouth has a soft, flabby body.

Dinofishy 'Coelacanth'

Coelacanth

Image source: ABC

Until its discovery in 1938 it was believed that the Coelacanth (pronounced 'see-la-canth') became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago. Four fishermen caught the rare fish off the coast of Zanzibar, Tanzania in June 2007. It weighed 59.5 pounds and measured 4.4 feet.

Characteristics: Coelacanths are the only living animals to have a fully functional intracranial joint, a division separating the ear and brain from the nasal organs and eye. They have an extra lobe on the tail, paired lobed fins, and a vertebral column that is not fully developed. One of the most unique features of the Coelacanth, is that it has paired fins which move in a similar fashion to our arms and legs.

Colossal Squid

Collosal Squid
A colossal squid's eye can be as big as a dinner plate.
Image source: Eco Tourism Blog

Characteristics: Colossal Squids come equipped with sharp swiveling or three-pointer hooks on their tentacles to help gash and capture their prey. It feeds on prey using bioluminescence (emitting light) It has a body that is wider and heavier than that of a giant squid. In fact, the colossal is believed to be the largest squid species in terms of mass.

Fun Fact: The colossal squid would yield calamari rings the size of tractor tires.

Large Sturgeon

Sturgeon

Image source: Ocean Leadership

Considered a living fossil, just this March, a Chinese sturgeon was caught accidentally by a local in the province of Jiangxi. The sturgeon measured nearly 5 feet and weighed 45 pounds. These critically endangered species are thought to have lived 140 million years ago with the dinosaurs.

Considered a living fossil, just this March, a Chinese sturgeon was caught accidentally by a local in the province of Jiangxi. The sturgeon measured nearly 5 feet and weighed 45 pounds. These critically endangered species are thought to have lived 140 million years ago with the dinosaurs.

Characteristics: Sturgeons lack a vertebral centrum, and have scutes (bony plates) rather than scales. Though they lack teeth for seizing prey, they can swallow fish as big as salmon. A grown-up sturgeon can measure up to 4 meters, and weigh over 1,000 pounds.

Halieutichthys aculeatus (Pancake Batfish)

Pancake Batfish

Image source: National Geographic

In December 2010, a Tauranga, NZ fishing vessel caught one of the world's rarest fish, known as the 'pancake batfish'. This handsome fellow is a relatively unknown species, according to marine experts. One of the most remarkable aspects about the rare catch was that they managed to keep the fish alive. The deep-sea, bottom dweller had been pulled from a depth of about 350m when the Skipper caught a glimpse of orange.

The two fishermen saw it kicking in the net so they put it in a bucket and rubbed its stomach. Stomach-rubbing helps reduce the amount of oxygen in the fish's swim-bladder, which expands when a fish is brought rapidly to the surface. Had the pressure not been released from the stomach, the fish could have exploded and died.

Pancake Batfish

Image source: Bay of Plenty

Characteristics: These rare species are flat like a pancake and have arm-like fins reminiscent of a walking bat when they waddle along the seafloor. The pancake batfish inhabits a subtropical, sandy, reef-associated, and 45–820 m deep environment. Two new species of batfish were discovered in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, in the region directly affected by the BP oil spill.


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