200-Year-Old Rockfish Dead Already? Sort Of

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:

Why do humans have a need to kill everything? 200-year-old rockfish could be the oldest and biggest ever caught http://t.co/82b4qp2E2K

— Melanie Mckinley (@serendipity0077) July 4, 2013