The 6 Most Mind-Blowing Things Ever Caught by Fishermen
If you're fishing in the right place, the other end of your line might as well be in deep space for all we know about the bottom of the ocean. That's the sort of thought that tends to come rushing back to you once you're cranking a line in with something alive on the other end. Of course, what you drag up is usually in the realm of what you were expecting. Other times, it looks like a horror movie creation.
And occasionally what you pull up is so unlikely that they couldn't put it in a Disney movie for fear that 5-year-olds everywhere would spontaneously invent the word "bullshit" to describe what just happened on screen. For instance ...
Tiger Shark Solves Murder Case
In 1935, Australians Albert and Charles Hobson baited a fishing line and left it off the coast of Sydney overnight. When they returned in the morning, they found out why most fisherman choose to get a good night sleep the night before they go fishing instead of while their lines are in the water: All the fish and even a small shark that had at one point been caught on their line now looked like Crystal Lake on Saturday the 14th. As they continued to haul in their line full of slashed and dismembered fish, they discovered the cause: A gigantic 14-foot tiger shark was entangled in their line and absolutely goddamn furious.
"If I'm not untangled in exactly four seconds, it's about to get all Amity Island up in this bitch."
The two men eventually wrestled the beast to shore with ropes, and when it refused to die, they took it to the nearby Coogee Aquarium. After a week in captivity, the shark, determined to maintain its newfound celebrity status, proceeded to vomit up a human arm in front of a crowd of terrified onlookers, officially making this the coolest thing anyone has ever paid to watch happen prior to the invention of TV. What's more, the arm in question still had a length of rope tied to the wrist, and an autopsy determined that the arm had been removed from its body with a knife. After putting the shark through a series of rudimentary knife-fighting tests, it was determined that somebody else had cut the arm off, and the shark had merely swallowed it and spit it at some people who looked like they weren't scared enough of sharks.
"This guy wasn't even worth digesting."
This is where the story would end if it hadn't been for a rare tattoo on the arm that allowed investigators to identify it as belonging to Jim Smith, a former boxer who found a later career committing petty crimes and insurance scams. Apparently, Smith had been a police informant and tried to blackmail the wrong guys. When he ended up in dozens of pieces in a chest at the bottom of the sea, the murderer hung onto his arm, because it had a rare tattoo and would serve as proof that he'd actually done the deed.
There's nothing worse than being identified by your bad tattoo. Except for being murdered and identified by your bad tattoo, we guess.
Once it had served its purpose, the arm was discarded into the bay anchored to something heavy by a length of rope. What seemed like covering tracks at the time looked like a too-good-to-be-true buffet to the tiger shark when it swam by. To be fair, everything looks like a too-good-to-be-true buffet to tiger sharks (in that scene in Jaws where they find license plates and a boot in a shark's stomach, it's a tiger shark they're examining). When the guilty parties were brought to justice, we hope they noted that they totally would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those meddling fishermen and their crime-solving shark.
The descendant of the shark later went on to star in a CSI: Miami episode, where he out-acted the entire cast.
Barry Hunter Catches His Friend's Skull
In 2007, Barry Hunter spilled thousands of wriggling fish out in front of him. Since he was a fisherman and not an aquarium custodian, this was good news. The day turned decidedly shittier when he noticed a human skull among the fish, which is pretty much a bummer no matter what line of work you're in. Unless you're a surgeon.
"This would be fine if I wasn't actually operating on his groin."
Turning over his disturbing find to police, forensic investigation uncovered that the skull was that of the missing Brian Allison. Despite what this article would lead you to believe, the chances of human remains ending up in a fisherman's net are pretty slim. But the fact that the fisherman and the skull's owner used to be drinking buddies brings the whole thing into Gypsy curse territory.
The sea is a harsh mistress, with a wicked temper when she drinks.
The commercial trawler the Jann Denise II had been found at the bottom of the dangerous North Sea three years earlier. The crew members, Brian Allison and his step-brother Robert Temple, were never found, and family, friends and fellow fishermen like Hunter all mourned the tragic loss.
Hunter's haul brought miraculous closure to family and friends and is a happy ending to a tragic story from their point of view. It's probably happy for Hunter, too, unless he had ever wronged Allison, or even swore at him during an argument about the ending of Blade Runner. If they had anything but the most casual and friendly acquaintance, Hunter is probably justifiably terrified of the bizarre turn of fate.
"The sign of the unicorn. Wow, dude, you really misinterpreted that entire film, didn't you?"
We're not going to suggest that the remainder of Mr. Allison's skeleton is still scratching its way to shore to exact terrible justice from beyond the grave, but someone should get Sam Raimi on the line about a script treatment, just in case.
"Hmm ... Bruce Campbell could use another beach house."
Mexican Fisherman Renders Photoshop Obsolete
Up until now the catches have all been pretty plausible, if sailing a little too close to insanity. Then you have ... this:
Oh there you are, Insanity. We'll just dock right here then.
FAKE! is probably the only way to begin and end any conversation about the above picture when seeing it for the first time. The sport fishing enthusiast site piscesfleet.blogspot.com broke the story of a one-eyed shark captured near Baja California by a commercial fisherman in June of this year. With only two pictures put up for review, the chorus of Internet naysayers screaming, "faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake" reached a decibel level comparable to a Justin Bieber concert held at an artillery proving ground. Here's the second picture:
Someone's slapped a couple of fins on a whale penis again.
Online commentators pointed out how in the first picture the guy holding the shark was suspiciously covering the area where its eye should be. When the second picture surfaced, the conversation turned to how easy it would have been to brush out the eyes with Photoshop. Nobody took the pictures seriously, with one poster stating that, "a Cabbage Patch doll must be missing an eye somewhere," and fanaca on Buzzfeed.com got creative:
Then some more photographs surfaced, courtesy again of piscesfleet.blogspot.com:
Smile! You're dead!
In these later shots, some time has passed and the creature is noticeably a little the worse for wear in comparison to the originals. The gentleman in the pictures above is Dr. Felipe Galvan, one of Mexico's most renowned shark researchers from the Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias del Mar (CICIMAR), a respected marine science institute, where he has served as professor and researcher since 1982. While it was reported by Pisces Fleet that Dr. Galvan had "seen, studied and produced an initial paper on this otherworldly animal," and was awaiting review and publication, skeptics still voiced their disdain, complaining now that the shark had to be a creation of a special effects artist, and that it didn't have gill slits.
Oh wait ... there they are.
Deciding not to trust any website with an astrological sign in the URL, we tried on our real-journalist hats and contacted Galvan, who confirmed the authenticity of the pictures and provided a little insight into just what the hell is going on.
He seemed a little put off by our hat, because Batman.
Apparently when a pregnant bull shark was recently caught by a commercial fisherman in the Sea of Cortez, the albino cyclops shark was one of the unborn fetuses found inside. The fisherman declined to donate the Pixar character for study (presumably seeing the shellac guitar-playing souvenir potential), but allowed scientists to examine it temporarily, which is where Galvan enters the picture. He explained, "This is extremely rare, as far as I know less than 50 examples of an abnormality like this have been recorded." A deformation resulting from pollution was discounted by Galvan: "The water in the Sea of Cortez is one of the cleanest in the world, so it is not likely that this is a factor."
"At least it was before you started screaming "I AM THE NIGHT" at manta rays and shitting yourselves."
Galvan then directed us to a YouTube video in which the finder and a CICIMAR representative are interviewed on Mexican television, with some close-up shots of the now desiccated specimen.
As for the "how the fuck?" something called holoprosencephaly is the most likely explanation. Do NOT do a Google Images search of holoprosencephaly unless you and your lunch want to meet again for a second date. The phenomenon rarely results in Pixar-ready cuteness.
Except in this case, where Sulley and Mike obviously had a baby.
Thomas Swindal Rides the Snake
In the summer of 2011, brothers Kenneth and Thomas Swindal were fishing near the town of Marathon in the Florida Keys when they noticed a strange, squarish white object floating in the water nearby. These were mature men (Thomas was 53), and being from the Florida Keys, long a popular destination for drug runners and smugglers, they were pretty certain they'd just found a kilo of cocaine. The brothers hauled the brick onto the hull, looked at it for a few minutes, and then put it in the bait well for safekeeping. What Kenneth planned to do with it when he got back to shore probably depended on whether or not he'd seen No Country for Old Men, but for now, he continued to fish. Thomas, it turned out, had some of the Coen brothers' trippier scenes in mind.
We hope it's more a Lebowski Saddam in a bowling alley than a Burn After Reading dick chair.
A short while later, Kenneth looked over and noticed his brother, who was old enough to be a grandfather, had been possessed by the ghost of Keith Moon. That's the only way to explain why Thomas had not only opened the package of white powder, but was eating and snorting it like a starving man who just found a box of Krispy Kremes.
"I WANT ALL THE GODDAMN FROSTING."
In a development that surprised nobody except him, the fisherman in his fifties couldn't handle his drugs. Less than a half hour later, Kenneth said his brother started going berserk. First, he threw their portable VHF radio and cellphones over the side. Next, he started stabbing the boat's engine with a gaffing hook and removed the cowling, causing the engine to sink into the sea, effectively stranding them.
"The fire dragon is dead! Flock to me, my harem!"
In an effort to speak the only language his brother now understood -- the language of tossing shit overboard -- Kenneth tossed all the sharp objects and the giant brick of drugs off the boat. He climbed to the top of the vessel and screamed for help until his cries were noticed by a fellow boater, and the brothers were towed to shore.
"Here's your rope. What? Woah no, I'll stay on my boat, thanks."
Thomas was taken to the nearest hospital, where he died of what was later conclusively determined to be a cocaine overdose. The Monroe County Sheriff's Office felt the need to remind the public that pulling suspected contraband from the water is ill advised, and that, "It certainly is never safe to ingest any substance if you do not know what the substance is or what the potency of the substance might be." That is, unless your midlife-crisis-based bad decision of choice happens to be going out like the worst kind of rockstar.
Maine Lobsterman Catches Chimera
When Alan Robinson headed out to sea in Bar Harbor, Maine, in July of 2006, he, like all commercial fishermen, was hoping for a little luck. What he hauled into his boat that day was a 1 in 50 million discovery.
We meet again, Two-Shell.
It looks like a Japanese fish-torture delicacy, where only half of the lobster is boiled so you can hear the other half scream, but it's actually a natural phenomenon. Well ... if you consider something that happens practically never a natural phenomenon.
A chimera occurs when two zygotes with different cells, and sometimes from different species, combine together to form a single creature ... or person. Yes, there have been human chimeras, who are the genetic equivalent of having non-identical twins in one body. Unfortunately, the human versions are far less dramatic-looking than what you might expect based on the lobster.
It depends on whether you like UV parties or not.
Lobsters carry a variety of pigments, usually yellow, red and blue. According to National Geographic, lobsters "grow symmetrically, with each half of the body developing independently of the other" (but hardly ever in this perfect of a fashion), and the chimera lobster captured by Robinson was lacking the blue and yellow pigment on one side, which caused it to look halfway delicious.
His red side says "Eat me." His black side says "You will lose your nose."
The amazing crustacean is currently living out the remainder of its life in Maine's Mount Desert Oceanarium. While chimeras are extremely rare, the uneven distribution of the three lobster pigments is less uncommon, and can occasionally result in other abnormalities like blue and even harlequin lobsters:
Unfortunately for any Dungeons and Dragons fans who have made it this far based on the header, science says that as rare as the chimera lobsters and humans are, they're not even close to as rare as the ones with a hit dice of 9d10+27 (76 hp) and armor class of 19 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +9 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 18.
Add a pack of dire wolves with trip to seriously fuck up a cocky mid-level party's day.
A Sailfish and the Sanctity of Marriage
In December 2002, Jamie Artzt and Blake Liebeskind were looking to take their friend's mind off the fact that his marriage was on the rocks. Their buddy, Eric Bartos, loved deep sea fishing, and so they took him out off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. The outing was a success for Bartos, as he was able to land a trophy-sized sailfish. But like John McClane with a hangover, no matter how much ass he was kicking, he couldn't get his mind off his wife.
She probably wasn't much of a looker.
In an act that probably got his buddies' secondhand embarrassment glands working over time, Bartos slid his soon-to-be meaningless wedding band onto the bill of the fish. Bartos would later claim it was meant to symbolize the start of his new life as a bachelor, which we believe translates to "I was drunk."
If we know anything about the kind of guys who stick rings on fish, there are about 70 empty cans of Keystone just out of frame.
Figuring the fish would get the symbolism and take it off once he and his fish friends were done laughing at the silly new "nose ring," Bartos and his friends returned the fish to the waves with its new bling still in place.
In 2005, the three friends found themselves together once again on a fishing vessel off the Florida coast, two-thirds of them presumably hoping Bartos wouldn't queer up the day with his sad panda antics. As the day wound down, there was finally a big hit on one of the lines, and Bartos grabbed the reel, saving the day via 10 minutes of working a beauty of a sailfish toward the boat. Once the fish was close enough, Liebeskind grabbed the line and noticed something shiny around its bill. It was the wedding ring that Bartos had wedged onto the bill of the sailfish in December of 2002, now back and staring him in the face with a fishy wriggling hatred. After an awkward stunned silence, the men came to their senses and immediately set about snapping photos of the ridiculous coincidence. The fish's bill had clearly grown in girth around the ring, securing it firmly in place.
Just like your mom's pantsuit.
When news of the bizarre coincidence reached the media, their bullshit-detecting equipment buried the needle. Bartos agreed to a lie detector test and passed with flying colors, the results of the test being described as "overwhelmingly truthful." While lie detector tests are notoriously fallible, there's also the question of why Bartos would make up a story in which he tortures a giant fish to get back at his wife.
When returned to the water she turns back into a woman, like a reverse Daryl Hannah in Splash.
Mistaking the intentions of the sword-faced fish clearly bent on revenge, Bartos took it as a "compliment that some people don't believe us. Iit just shows us how miraculous this story is." Dr. Eric Prince of the National Marine Fisheries Service said, "I have no reason to disbelieve these guys and the fact that there is a picture that shows that notch, that indentation, where that ring was on the bill even further convinces me this is the truth." He also noted that there have been other instances of fisherman tagging and releasing billfish only to capture the same one later, but emphasized that it's extremely rare, and the equivalent of winning the lottery. Except that instead of winning millions, Bartos lost money while giving his ex-wife another reason to think she was right about him and his idiot friends after all.
No matter what you think about fate, a stupid fish will never reconcile a marriage.
For more horror movie terrors, check out 7 Terrifying Prehistoric Creatures (That Are Still Around) and 13 Real Animals Lifted Directly Out of Your Nightmares.