An insurance adjuster from Seattle collected something major in Alaska. Henry Liebman reeled in a nearly 40-pound rockfish that is believed to be 200 years old in late June, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reports.
The 41-foot long fish is a shortraker, a kind of rockfish that is commonly found in the Bering Sea. Liebman, who caught the fish near Sitka, Ala., returned home with the giant fish and plans to mount it on his wall.
“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 Daily Sitka Sentinel. His 39.08-pound catch beat the old record by four-tenths of a pound.
Scientists determine the age of a fish by examining an ear bone known as the otolith, which contains growth rings much like age rings found on a tree trunk, LiveScience reports. Samples of Liebman’s rockfish were sent to a lab in Juneau to determine its age.
The orange-pink fish can reach depths of nearly 4,000 feet, making them a hard fish to catch, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Liebman said he made his catch at around 900 feet.
His decision to keep the fish rather than releasing it back to sea has sparked criticism on Twitter:
Henry Liebman is the colossal jerk who caught a 200 year old rockfish off the coast of Alaska and killed it to hang on his wall.
— susie heath (@IeSusie) July 2, 2013
Another great fish, this one 200 years old, caught and...killed. How is that something to be proud of? http://t.co/XZ2xb6aaqU
— Mike Misner (@EcoOceanBlog) July 2, 2013
Words fail me. I just don't get how this arse can look so smug when he's just killed what may be the oldest fish... http://t.co/xsjb5NJyWi
— Carl Seager (@CarlSeager) July 2, 2013
But intentional catch-and-release fishing may have done more harm to the giant rockfish. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, rockfish experience barotrauma when caught in deep water. The agency discourages releasing fish back into the water since they most likely have inflated bladders that will prevent them from resubmerging.