One day after we showed you the caught-in-Puget Sound ocean sunfish that was on display outside Alki’s Sunfish restaurant, a new look and perspective from one of the first to see it on shore after a Muckleshoot fishing crew brought it in. From journalist John Loftus:
Here’s a photo I took of the sunfish a few hours after it was landed on a dock on the Duwamish River.
Its weight has been estimated at 300-350 pounds. Wikipedia notes that the Monterey Bay Aquarium had a young specimen that arrived weighing 26 pounds and weighed 880 pounds just 15 months later, so it seems safe to say that, contrary to what one’s intuition may suggest, this is not an old fish.
You will also note a semicircular spot on its side where a pectoral fin used to be, apparently a healed-over wound. The fin, larger than a man’s hand, was present on the other side of the fish. It’s possible that the loss of this fin may have hindered the sunfish’s ability to navigate properly, resulting in its gradual weakening and disorientation. While very rare in Puget Sound, ocean sunfish are quite common all around the world and, unfortunately, are frequently caught in nets set for other fish.
I spent some time with the fish after it was moved to Sunfish on Alki, where it attracted a constant stream of curious visitors. Most found it fascinating. A few found it repulsive, a perception that was greatly exaggerated in KUOW’s report this morning. The owner of Sunfish and I both thought that the giant fish was very beautiful.
John Loftus, Editor
(Yes, that’s the 1st Avenue South Bridge in the background.) We looked but haven’t found a link to the KUOW discussion he mentioned; if you missed the link in the Wednesday report, The Seattle Times (WSB partner; paywalled) has updated its story. Here’s information about the species via National Geographic.