Fish Facts V

Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Another look at some different, strange and bizarre sea creatures caught by Sport Fishing readers.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Nightmare from the abyss: This is a giant marine isopod (Bathynmus giantess) and came up from a depth between 3,000 and 5,000 feet, attached to a remotely operated vehicle checking Gulf oil pipelines. These critters are, in fact, the world's largest isopod, a group of crustaceans that includes the little roly-polies that you may find cured up in the sandy soil under your house. Like the roly-poly, they can also roll into a defensive ball, and while they may look a bit nightmarish, they're actually scavengers that clean up rare morsels that fall to the ocean bottom.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Clint Dean of Lookout Mountain, Georgia, foul-hooked this fish while fishing blue water aboard the Fit 'N' Finish south of Port Lucaya Bahamas, and thought it was a piece of metal floating on the surface. Although photos didn't show all the features necessary to positively identify the catch, the crazy-looking fish belongs to the genus Benthodesmus and is likely an elongate frostfish, B. Elongatus. Before this catch, this species hadn't been reported from the Bahamas, but is known from other locations in the eastern and western Atlantic, as well as the Pacific and Indian oceans. They live in the water column just above the seafloor, in depths between approximately 600 and 3,000 feet.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Lionfish like this very large one caught off North Carolina while angler Anthony Ng was bottomfishing, consume nearly every kind of fish and soft invertebrate they can fit into their mouthes. This trait, coupled with a lack of natural population controls in the tropical western Atlantic Ocean, makes them particularly threatening to the ecology of our reefs. They are excellent eating, but one needs to be careful to avoid being pierced by the fishes' venomous spines during cleaning. Some individuals have taken to heating the fishes' fins with a propane torch prior to cleaning them, which renders a stab from a lionfish spine no more painful than stabs from a non-venomous fish.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Joe Loyd of Akutan, Alaska, cut the heck out of his hands while grabbing this banged-up longnose lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox) from the top of a salmon gillnet. "Sharp teeth lined its mouth and extended even to the inside of its gill plates. It had no scales covering its skin, and -- although torn -- the fish's saillike dorsal fin stood about 12 inches high." Southeast Fish Facts expert Ray Waldner, Ph.D., says this species has an ultrahigh dorsal fin, much like that of a sailfish. It grows to 7 1/2 feet long and is found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in depths to more than 6,000 feet.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Also known as Napoleon wrasse or giant wrasse, this mini example of Cheilinus undulates, the humped Maori wrasse, is the most massive of the wrasses. These fish are found (and considered endangered) throughout coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific region and grow to more than 7 feet and 400 pounds. As the most valuable species in the live-reef-fish trade in Southeast Asia, Asian businessmen will pay more than $70 per pound for these fish (and an additional $250 to eat a plate of Maori wrasse lips for their reputed aphrodisiac properties.) Les Saulibio of Kwajelein Atoll, Marshall Islands, submitted this photo, courtesy of his friend Amy.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Although they've caught several, this juvenile billfish's identity stumped Linda Wilson and her husband, Chuck, who own the Kona charter boat Fire Hatt. Says Julian Pepperell, a leading Pacific billfish expert based in Australia, "It's either a shortfall spearfish or a [juvenile] blue, with some sort of deformity to the bill. It's not a sail since its dorsal would be much higher and more parabolic in shape." Pepperell also notes its head is too small to be a black, dorsal too short up front to be a striped.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Bob Sinclair of Virginia Beach, Virginia, caught this tattler (Serranus phoebe) in 240 feet of water out of Hatteras, North Carolina, on a piece of squid. Until this, southeast Fish Facts expert Ray Waldner, Ph.D., hadn't see any reports of a tattler being caught in North Carolina waters, but they were known to range from South Carolina to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico. Although too small to have any food value, the species is sometimes kept by marine aquariasts.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Growing to around 25 pounds, speckled snapper (Lutjanus rivulatus) -- also known as the blubberlip snapper and blue-spotted sea perch -- are relatively large members of the Lutjanidae family of fish. Michael Elstob, of London, caught this magnificent fish while casting a plug over reef shallows in Bassas Da India, a remote atoll halfway between Madagascar and the African mainland. Their main prey includes bottom-dwelling crustaceans, squid and smaller fish, prey that begets the modus operandi this one used in attacking Elstob's plug.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
This rare recreational catch is a barramundi cod (Chromileptes alivelis) caught by John Ashley near Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef north of Cairns, Australia. Definitely a marine grouper (family Serranidae -- called cods in Australia), it's also known as a humpback grouper or panther grouper and is the only member of its genus. They grow to more than 28 inches long and are naturally rare in the wild but are reputed to excellent table fish, commanding the highest prices in the live-fish trade.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Red gurnards (Chelidnichthys kumu) like this specimen caught by Steve Wozniak in Botany Bay near Sydney, Australia, can also be encountered in New Zealand and South Africa and reach around 2 feet long. Their outsized and sometimes vibrantly colored pectoral fins, accompanied by two or three free, finger-like pectoral fin rays on each side, qualify as the most striking feature of members of this group of bottom-dwelling fishes that includes gurnards and sea robins. They usually move slowly over the bottom using their free pectoral fin rays for propulsion, but capture prey with swift bursts of speed.
Fish Facts V
Fish Facts V
Tom "AK Hooker" Gervais and his girlfriend caught several of these longbow leatherjacket (Oligoplites altus) on live baits and plastic swimbaits in the species' primo habitat, the quiet waters of estuaries and mangrove forests of the Pacific coast of Panama. Although these fish are relatively small (up to about 22 inches), they are spunky, and on light tackle they will run you up and down a lagoon. See more Fish Facts here!