Let’s get your two obvious questions out of the way first. (Spoiler alert.) Yes, he ate it. No, it didn’t taste like chicken. Happy now?
Oscar Lundahl of Norway is no ordinary young fisherman. The 19-year-old fishing guide for Nordic Sea Angling had baited his hooks with mackerel in his quest to catch rare blue halibut in the waters about 8 km (5 mi) off the coast of the island of Andoya near northern Norway — 300 km (190 mi) inside the Arctic circle. All together now … brr!
“I had four hooks on one line and felt something quite big on the end of it. It took me about 30 minutes to reel it in because it was over 2,600 feet deep.”
“It” turned out to be the strangest creature Lundahl had ever seen. Huge bulging eyes stretching from the top of its head down almost to its mouth. A long, skinny, lizard-like tail. A sharp, pointed dorsal fin and smooth skin. (Pictures here.)
“It was pretty amazing. I have never seen anything like it before. It just looked weird, a bit dinosaur-like.”
Lundfahl to The Sun that he wild-eyed monster fish was a mystery to him but not to another guide, who correctly identified it as a ratfish or rabbit fish. But not just any ratfish. This creature was a Chimaeras Monstrosa Linnaeus, named for the mythical fire-breathing Greek monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. Well, one-out-of-three ain’t bad, especially for a fish that dates back 300 million years and is rarely seen or caught due to living on the ocean floor at depths of up to 1400 meters (4600 feet).
“Sluggish, usually occurring in small groups. Feeds mainly on bottom-living invertebrates. The single dorsal spine is sharp and pointed, and although only mildly venomous can inflict a painful wound. Oviparous. Males have a clasper on the forehead that is probably used to hold on to the female during copulation.” (fishbase.se)
Lundfahl was lucky his hands avoided the Chimaeras Monstrosa’s poisonous fin and this one was sluggish because it had the ratfish equivalent of the bends – the dangerous condition scuba divers suffer when ascending too quickly without adjusting to pressure changes. It killed the Chimaeras Monstrosa … and you already know what happened next.
“Despite its ugly appearance it was really tasty. It is a bit like cod but tastier.”
A 300-million-year-old species was ignominiously pan fried in butter. At least it didn’t taste like you-know-what.