Monday, September 21, 2009

Sea Monsters: "It Was Weird"

I live in what amounts to a wilderness. They don't call it the Last Frontier for giggles, Brethren. Nothing makes you feel small and vulnerable like staring out your window on a frosty January afternoon and seeing nothing but dark staring back at you. Nothing, that is, but maybe finding this picture in the local Sunday paper. Welcome to Alaska!

The creature here pictured was found in a crab pot that had been soaking for four hours in Tutka Bay. Anchorage Daily News picked up the story from The Peninsula Clarion and reporter Joseph Robertia. I bet there weren't any sea monsters in your local paper yesterday.

Crab fisherman Bill Coghill of Soldotna pulled this thing out of his pot and is quoted as saying rather succinctly that "It was weird". The fish-like creature was pinkish beige, according to Coghill, and had no teeth although the inside of its mouth was like sandpaper. Coghill reports that the animal was approximately five feet long. It was not attempting to eat the crab that were in the pot with it, so I will venture to say that it was also polite. Coghill and his companions decided they didn't want to find out what the critter tasted like, so they returned it to the doubtless chilly water of the Bay.

By coincidence, the ferry driver on their trip home across Kachemak Bay was a retired Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist. When Coghill showed him the pictures he had snapped of his unusual catch the man knew what it was right away: a giant wrymouth. It was the largest one the biologist had ever seen.

Giant wrymouth are known to live in deep water in the Bering Sea and as far south as Northern California. They are bottom feeders who lie in wait for prey such as shrimp and are rarely seen outside their dens on the ocean floor. This guy seems to have gotten lost.

"We felt good about letting it go," Coghill is quoted in the article as saying. "Because the world should have sea monsters and things you don't see everyday."

I could not agree more.


Beck said...

I'm glad they let him go. Poor guy with no teeth.

Pauline said...

Ahoy Beck and welcome aboard! Well, if Charles Darwin taught us anything, its that Nature is a cruel mistress and sometimes you don't get teeth. I wonder if Mr. Coghill gave his catch a name?

Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! I would have named it "Tina" wrymouth after the bass player in the Talking Heads...

Pauline said...

Ahoy Timmy! Obscure refence, that. Here's another: I would have named it "Pinky" because today is pink day.