West Seattle scene: Sunfish seen outside Sunfish

12:39 PM: The photo was shared by Amanda, who says:

This fish was sitting outside of Sunfish on Alki. Owner said it was caught right in Puget sound waters this morning. Amazing!! … Ironically, it’s actually a sunfish (the restaurant’s namesake). Normally this is a tropical fish, so the owner wasn’t sure why it was in the Sound. It’s not an edible fish, so it’s on display outside his restaurant.

That’s Amanda’s fiancĂ© Kelby Schrock with the sunfish. A bit of online research suggests these fish do turn up in Puget Sound from time to time.

4:42 PM: Thanks to Owen for finding this Seattle Times (WSB partner) item with more information about the fish and how it got to Alki – in short, it was bycatch while a Muckleshoot tribal fishing boat was pulling up its salmon net.

49 Replies to "West Seattle scene: Sunfish seen outside Sunfish"

  • Betsy Bertiaux October 30, 2013 (1:02 pm)

    Interesting. fish. must. kill. and. display.


  • Stella Adler October 30, 2013 (1:07 pm)

    It is not exactly using the word ‘ironic’ correctly to refer to a sunfish outside of Sunfish. It is more of a coincidence. Though sunfish are usually found in tropical waters, it is not uncommon to find them pretty much anywhere else. What is more impressive is that this one managed to elude our local orcas as cetacea LOVE to eat sunfish. Parts of the sunfish are considered a delicacy in Asia, though the sale of the fish for human consumption is also banned in Europe because many parts of the fish contain toxins.

  • onion October 30, 2013 (1:07 pm)

    I thought sunfish were fairly small or average size. That is a monster.
    If not edible, it would have nice to do catch and release, but perhaps that was not doable.
    Sitting outside a fast food restaurant (as much as I like Sunfish Fish and Chips — they are one of my favorites) does not seem like a respectful ending to what must have been a long and eventful life. This picture saddens me.

  • Hilary October 30, 2013 (1:16 pm)

    So who caught the fish?

  • markinthedark October 30, 2013 (1:49 pm)

    Even if it couldn’t be saved, it would do more good tossing it back into the Sound than sitting on display in front of Sunfish.

  • Civik October 30, 2013 (1:50 pm)

    I’ve heard several tales from local divers about a friendly sunfish in the sound. Hope this wasn’t the same fish.

    Seems a shame to catch and kill something that you can’t even eat.

  • waterworld October 30, 2013 (1:58 pm)

    If this is an ocean sunfish (genus Mola, species mola), then it is not an unusually large specimen. Ocean sunfish can get up to ten feet across and weigh 5,000 pounds. They are the largest bony fish in the world (cartilaginous fish, such as sharks, can be larger). Their range extends into temperate waters, although they are more common in the tropics. Mola are often caught (unintentionally) in drift gill nets. I don’t know whether they can be caught on a line.

  • k October 30, 2013 (2:04 pm)

    why must they be caught for no reason?

  • jackspara October 30, 2013 (2:08 pm)

    Argh…This picture makes me hungry…ever had one of their halibut kabos!!

  • Wes C. Addle October 30, 2013 (2:42 pm)

    To quote the great Kurt Cobain
    It’s okay to eat fish
    ‘Cause they don’t have any feelings”
    Cool specimen.

  • Karen October 30, 2013 (3:05 pm)

    Horrific end for a creature that size…what a waste!

  • Jen October 30, 2013 (3:23 pm)

    Why would anyone try to catch such an awesome animal? These are one of the coolest fish ever — so sweet when you see them either on the surface or if you are lucky enough to dive with them. I sure hope it was not caught intentionally — though frankly, they are so mellow that I imagine it must have been on purpose and for no reason whatsoever. This is sort of akin to killing a manatee or dolphin — that’s how awesome they are.

  • Trevor Anderson October 30, 2013 (3:26 pm)

    Have you had their Sunfish kabobs?!

  • Marty October 30, 2013 (3:46 pm)

    That one is a baby! I hook one every year or two at Westport and they are often 3-4 times that size. I get as close as I can and break off the line…

  • theresa October 30, 2013 (4:03 pm)

    jeez..seattle..i think we all get the idea of respect for the animals in the sound and on land …but come on a proud man can’t even go fishing and show off his yes very “ironic” sunfish…fish on man…congratulations! and i dont believe this species is endangered so let him be proud of his catch..unless im wrong on the endangered thing.

  • Best Fish and Chips October 30, 2013 (4:07 pm)

    Best Fish and Chips in the Seattle area, bar none.

    Bummed that they are now closed on Monday and TUESDAY until April.

  • Tony October 30, 2013 (4:13 pm)

    Is this species different from the sunfish that is commonly caught and eaten in Hawaii called Opah?

  • owen October 30, 2013 (4:19 pm)

    The Seattle Times has more details about the catch that might help relieve the tension. In summary,a fisherman caught it in his gill net, brought it aboard, then contacted the Sunfish restaurant the next day.

    • WSB October 30, 2013 (4:41 pm)

      Thank you, Owen. We weren’t able to follow up on it, but I published the photo anyway as we were getting numerous calls about it, and I would have never expected to find details there – though it was just a self-contained local oddity. Will add some info from that item. – TR

  • Niko October 30, 2013 (4:21 pm)

    i agree its not all that great respectful ending to it’s life. the fish even manages to escape the grip of PS orca,but not the greed of mans grip. i think it should be illegal and fine to take fish for this reason,esp fish of this size.

  • Niko October 30, 2013 (4:24 pm)

    a fine to pay$$$$, i mean.

  • Moke October 30, 2013 (4:31 pm)

    Gill net by-catch. Boo.

  • rcl October 30, 2013 (5:08 pm)

    wonder if this was him or her? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUOsaHPK4gg

  • Charlie October 30, 2013 (5:16 pm)

    According to the Times, this fish was caught by “tribal fishermen gillnetting for salmon.”

  • DTK October 30, 2013 (5:24 pm)

    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
    Only after the last river has been poisoned,
    Only after the last fish has been caught,
    Only then will you find money cannot be eaten.

    ~ Cree Prophecy
    ~ Chief Seattle

  • GoRedSox October 30, 2013 (5:33 pm)

    Irony depends on something being the opposite of what is expected or intended. A MOONfish outside of Sunfish would be ironic. One might say it is ironic that everyone considers a bit of by-catch to be disrespectful to this fish whereas we seem to demonstrate very little concern for all of the effluent (trash, dog mess, cigarette butts, brake dust) our daily activities flush into the Sound.

  • Frank October 30, 2013 (5:40 pm)

    “Gill net by-catch. Boo.”

    Gill net by-catch by Native Fisherman.
    Why are you against tribal fisheries, Moke?
    Why must you continue to oppress these people?

  • JP October 30, 2013 (8:25 pm)

    That is a huge fish! Needs something like this in the Seattle aquarium haha

  • Dana October 30, 2013 (8:52 pm)

    Using nets to catch a certain type of fish – so much collateral damage. I really think it unnecessary to kill anyone. And Frank, it’s the fisherman that are oppressing fish.

  • jwws October 30, 2013 (8:53 pm)

    Irony, sunfish is not edible yet the restaurant which serves fish and chips is named after an inedible fish!

  • DTK October 30, 2013 (8:55 pm)

    Strange that a dead fish gets more comments than a dead boy.

  • BHH October 30, 2013 (10:11 pm)

    It was a by-catch people. Meaning the tribe did not mean to catch this fish but was unable to keep it alive since it was caught in a gill-netting.

  • ddr October 31, 2013 (10:39 am)

    A beautiful fish. Why not catch, photo and release?

    • WSB October 31, 2013 (11:47 am)

      Followup coming up with a bit more information on the sunfish, just received from a journalist who was at the dock not long after it was hauled in – TR

  • ACG October 31, 2013 (11:31 am)

    D. James- thx for posting that article. I hadn’t heard of that. Ugh. How worrisome.

  • anonyme October 31, 2013 (11:31 am)

    What an absurd waste. No excuse, PC or otherwise.

  • M October 31, 2013 (11:55 am)

    Saying this is OK because it is “by-Catch” is like saying it was ok for BP to spill oil since it was not intended.

  • Jeff B. October 31, 2013 (12:30 pm)

    One can always go the boycott route and not support this type of behavior.

  • ELL October 31, 2013 (1:20 pm)

    M, you nailed it.

  • G October 31, 2013 (1:33 pm)

    Hey West Seattleites, do you realize that your monitoring/surveillance of neighbors – and probably good people – is getting, well, a little creepy?

    Seriously, people, dial it back.

  • Mark S October 31, 2013 (3:32 pm)

    Do what you will with the process that eventually killed the fish. But it was accidental – and you can’t undo death.

    So – as these fish aren’t native here, this is an opportunity for folks to see something rare up close. Why not allow it to educate and inspire for a day or two? I’d say that’s about as respectful as it gets.

  • Gavin October 31, 2013 (5:03 pm)

    What a waste! If it’s not edible why did the fisherman not catch & release (and just take a picture)???

  • Tuna October 31, 2013 (6:59 pm)

    Almost every grocery store sells TONS of Tunafish caught alongside dying dolphins in nets. Despite all the info about dolphin-safe line-caught tuna! Many people don’t understand by-catch happens when you have anything other than a hook and a person behind it. At least this Sunfish had a few days in the sun before burial.

    May this call attention to the tons of daily by-catch by Monster fishing boats called “factory trawlers.” Need a job? Trick or make it a living/treat. http://www.alaskajobfinder.com/jobseekers/factory-trawlers.php

  • Sandy October 31, 2013 (7:20 pm)

    Sad the guy who killed the octopus to eat was put to shame and this odd not from Puget Sound fish is put on display to rot and be glorified.

  • MacJ October 31, 2013 (7:34 pm)

    I’m not sure if that fish has eyes big enough to generate the roll required for some of these knee-jerk comments.

  • Smitty October 31, 2013 (10:09 pm)

    Dead fish > dead boy.

    I <3 West Seattle…..

    Good god.

  • NotMe November 1, 2013 (8:08 am)

    Some of these comments are typical of too many people that have lived here too long. Even the grammar police are passive aggressive.

Sorry, comment time is over.