Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bizarre fish take over Puget Sound

I'm a ratfish lover, ever since I saw them on my Swim Around Bainbridge. But not everybody loves a nice cartilaginous chimera that is almost identical to a fish that was swimming before there were dinosaurs, over 200 million years ago.

This has to change, now that Seattle is more the home of the spotted ratfish than the home of salmon. Spotted ratfish are taking over Puget Sound, much to the chagrin of people who like to fish for the more charismatic salmon or even a not-so-sexy rockfish. Ratfish probably make up nearly 70% of the mass of fish under the Caffeinated Inland Sea.

They're actually quite cool, they're captivating with big green luminous eyes that seem to shine in low light, and it's time we all got used to them. Even though they inspire the prosaic Seattle Times to opine "Surely these are the wages of our ecological sins." Oh my. It may not even be true that ratfish are the trash fish taking over Puget Sound thanks to us humans messing it up. They may have been with us all along, and just innocently booming when other fish are crashing.

Fishy artist Ray Troll has a painting showing ratfish "patiently waiting for Seattle to go away," but I couldn't find a copy to post for you.

Here's a nice discussion of the spotted ratfish, aka ghost shark, including it's rather interesting sex habits.

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