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200-YEAR-OLD ROCKFISH

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A 200-year-old fish has been caught in Alaska.

A 39.08-pound rockfish caught by an insurance adjuster from Seattle on June 21 is the oldest fish ever caught in the state, according to a local media report.

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Henry Liebman reeled in the record setting catch from a depth of about 900 feet, and learned of his achievement when he brought the beast ashore.

‘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 Sentinal.

The ancient monster measured 41 inches, smashing the old record, set by a 32 and a half inch guppie, Troy Tidingco, Sitka area manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, told the paper.

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 paper.

Troy Tidingco, Sitka area manager for the state Department of Fish and Game, said the fish is still being analyzed but he believes it is at least 200 years old. Tidingco said that would beat the current record of 175 years. Researchers are able to determine the age of a shortraker by the number of growth rings along its ear bone.

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In 2007, a commercial fisherman caught a similarly sized rockfish that turned out to be 115 years old. Amazingly, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association say that fish was still fertile at the time of its capture. “The belly was large,” NOAA researcher Paul Spencer told The Associated Press. “The ovaries were full of developing embryos.”

Liebman told the paper he plans to have the fish mounted back home in Seattle, but he did provide the Alaska Department of Fish and Game with a sample so its age could be determined.

Tidingco noted that if the fish is actually as old as believed, it would easily predate the Alaska Purchase in 1867.

The fish predates the US purchase of Alaska from Russia, which happened in 1867. Sitka, according to the local historical society, was the site of the ceremony commemorating the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the US later that year.

Though unusually large, Liebman’s catch isn’t the biggest fish ever hauled out of ocean. That distinction belongs to a bluefin tuna hauled out of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1979. Caught by sport fisherman Ken Fraser, the big tuna weighed in at a staggering 1,496 pounds, Fraser even wrote a book about the catch that he sells on his personal website.

The largest known fish in the ocean is the whale shark, according to National Geographic. The mega fish has been known to grow to lengths of 40 feet – as big as a city bus – and average over 20 tons in weight. Discovered off the coast of South Africa in 1828, the whale shark usually lives around 70 years, according to FishBase.

Reported by Ryan Gorman of The Daily Mail.