Posted in: Animal News

200-Year-Old Rockfish Dead Already? Sort Of

200-year-old rockfish

Remember the 200-year-old rockfish we learned about yesterday, whose long, long life came to an abrupt end during a June fishing trip off the coast of Atlanta?

The 200-year-old rockfish story is one that emerged as a scientific curiosity but predictably ignited ire on the web — the tale of a very, very old living thing killed for sport by a smiling fisherman was one that didn’t go over too well with the wildlife loving web.

Today, a followup on the 200-year-old rockfish said it was likely dead when it was caught last month on the fishing expedition. But what are the chances that the ocean-dwelling creature just so happened to live for two centuries before it just so happened to drop dead and then just so happened to be caught and pulled to the surface from the depths at which rockfish are known to swim?

It turns out, it didn’t exactly go down that way for the unfortunate 200-year-old rockfish. Experts weighing in to say the creature was already dead added an important caveat — that being brought above the water’s surface is likely what led to the 200-year-old rockfish’s death.

So, on one hand, it really couldn’t have been avoided as it’s impossible to see what you’ve netted before you drag it up. On the other, it’s still a bit sad that the animal lived for so long only to die for sport.

Julie Speegle, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Los Angeles Times that due to the way a rockfish lives, they can’t survive catch and release:

When a rockfish caught in 900 feet of water is brought to the surface it usually dies.

People are still not pleased about the 200-year-old rockfish’s fate, though:


Kristen Green, ground fish biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, told the paper:

“There is always a feeling that it is sad when something this old is taken from the sea, but this is a drop in the bucket compared to what the commercial fisheries take … He just happened to be fishing at a really deep depth. Most recreational fisherman don’t fish that deep.”

Do you think the 200-year-old rockfish is proof we need to be more cautious with how we treat the ocean, or do worse things happen at sea?

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11 Responses to “200-Year-Old Rockfish Dead Already? Sort Of”

  1. Ronnie Dorr Sr

    How about preserve preserve preserve not Kill Kill Kill–Will we ever learn?

  2. Cindy Appel

    When you fish, you don't know what you are bringing to the's not like the fisherman woke up that day saying. "let's go fishing and end a 200 year old fish's life." Many humans eat fish, like it or not.

  3. Jenni Field

    True, but is there really a need to fish at such great depths–plenty of sport fish live closer to the surface and can survive catch&release. Just my 2 cents.

  4. Jenni Field

    I don't understand why a sport fisherman would be fishing at those depths unless he was specifically looking for the types of fish who live that far underwater. So, as far as I'm concerned, it was completely intentional. Plenty of fish live closer to the surface and *can* survive catch & release. Why fish for something that you know will die on the way up?

  5. Jenni Field

    The initial article stated something along the lines of counting the rings in it's inner ear, I believe.

  6. Jeremy Miller

    I get what youre sayin Pops but the only solution is to not even fish that deep. These fish and this one inparticular live hundreds of feet underwater. At THAT depth, once theyre hooked, unless they get off QUICK, they are already DEAD. JUST the pressure change coming to the surface kills them, That's why if you notice the picture of the fish the guy caught… its eyes are popped out of its head. Literally. The MASSIVE change in pressure causes that and for their insides to implode. Cruel anyway you look at it I suppose. With as many problems as the government has already, I just don't think this is something the govt should focus on now. We have bigger fish to fry. No pun intended :) Miss ya!

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