Fisherman Catches Rockfish in Alaska That May Be 200-Years-Old

Researchers are trying to determine whether the fish is the oldest of its kind

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AP / Daily Sitka Sentinel, James Poulson

Henry Liebman with his record-breaking rockfish at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office

A bright orange shortraker rockfish caught off the coast of southern Alaska is estimated to have lived for two centuries.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel recently reported that Henry Liebman, an insurance adjustor from Seattle, captured the giant fish with bulging eyes about 10 miles off the coast of Sitka, Alaska – breaking the state record for the largest shortraker rockfish reeled in with sport-fishing gear at 104 centimeters (nearly 41 inches) and 39.08 pounds.

Liebman’s catch might also set the record for the oldest shortraker. “I knew it was abnormally big (but I) didn’t know it was a record until on the way back we looked in the Alaska guide book that was on the boat,” Liebman told the newspaper.

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While its age is currently being determined in a lab in Juneau, the state capital, a fishery expert told the Sentinel that it might be around 200 years old and may have already been swimming in the chilly waters during the days of Aleksandr Baranov – the first Russian governor of Alaska from 1799 to 1818 – before the state became part of the United States in 1867. “Researchers are able to determine the age of a shortraker by the number of growth rings along its ear bone,” Yahoo News reports.

Troy Tydingco, Sitka area manager for the state Department of Fish and Game, believes the Liebman’s fish will likely be older because the previous record-holding fish, which was 175 years old, “was quite a bit smaller”.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website, the shortraker rockfish is “believed to be one of the longest-lived of all fish in the northeast Pacific, and some individuals may reach a maximum age of >120 years.” The fish can be found at a depth of 84 feet to up to 4,000 feet, according to the Daily Sikta Sentinel. Liebman was fishing in water about 900-feet deep.

The delighted Liebman plans to have the fish mounted when he gets home, but some Twitter users were not amused by the conquest:

Apart from being an impressive trophy, the rockfish is also known for its succulent fillet. The website for purveyer Seattle Seafoods praises the rockfish as “one of the best eating fish in the world” with its “firm, white and meaty, yet oily” flesh.

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