Mysterious ‘winged fish with evil eyes’ caught by Nova Scotia fishermen

When a fish named after a mythic monster came up as by-catch on a fishing trawler, work stopped as fishermen gawked and wondered what it could be.

The bizarre fish was caught on a trawler fishing for cod and redfish off Newfoundland. Commenters called it "alien" and "one of the demons of the deep."

The bizarre fish was caught on a trawler fishing for cod and redfish off Newfoundland. Commenters called it “alien” and “one of the demons of the deep.”

Work on a fishing trawler off Newfoundland came to a halt when a mysterious and bizarre fish came up in the catch. CBC News wrote that it “looks somewhat like a bird, with a long, pointy snout, bright neon green eyes and ribbed fins that resemble feathered wings.”

The Daily Star, a tabloid in the U.K., called it a “winged fish with evil eyes.”

“All the production stopped and everything so everybody could check it out,” fisherman Scott Tanner told CBC News. “There’s lots of other weird stuff that comes out [of the ocean] but that one definitely stood out.”

The 58-foot trawler was on a 42-day trip fishing for cod and redfish in waters off the Grand Banks and St. Pierre and Miquelon when the unusual fish came up as by-catch.

Scott Tanner aboard the trawler

Scott Tanner aboard the trawler. Photo: Courtesy of Scott Tanner

Tanner snapped photos of the fish and, like everybody else, wondered what it could be. It wasn’t until he got home to Nova Scotia that he looked up the species and came up with his best guess.

He believes it to be a long-nosed chimaera -- chimaera being a Greek word used to describe a mythic monster, according to CBC News.

“I don’t imagine many people have seen one,” Tanner said.

“Even the older guys that are 50, 60 years old, they’ve seen maybe one in their lifetime so they thought it was pretty neat.”

Dalhousie University biology professor Jeffrey Hutchings looked at the photo and told CBC News that it indeed looks like a long-nose chimaera (aka a knifenose chimaera), adding that they are quite uncommon, being found at depths ranging from 660 to 6,560 feet.

More from CBC News:

The California Academy of Sciences says chimaeras are a group of cartilaginous fish that branched off from sharks nearly 400 million years ago ...

The longnose variety is found off Nova Scotia and in various other parts of the Atlantic Ocean. They feed on shrimp and crabs and are harmless to humans ...

Like much of the fish pulled in as byproduct while dragging nets for cod and redfish, the chimaera died due to the pressure change, Tanner says. It was eventually loaded onto a conveyer belt and dumped back in the ocean.

Tanner shared the photo with media and on Reddit, where commenters called it everything from “alien” to “one of the many demons of the deep.”

Tanner, typically a scallops fisherman, said he will fish on the trawler again, no doubt keeping his eyes open for unusual catches.

“You never know what you might find now,” he said.

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