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Beautiful Strange Fish Poisonous or Not!

Photo by Captain Judy Helmey

I simply love taking people fishing and to this day I still get excited when one of my customers hooks a fish. When you drop a hook in the ocean you really never know what kind or size of fish that might bite your hook.

While plain old bottom fishing at the Savannah Snapper Banks, located about 35 miles off Georgia’s coast, we had a unique catch. One of my customers, Jon Dale of RADO Mechanical Group, caught a very interesting fish, which I could not identify. Believe me, I can still see the expression on Jon’s face, when I said, “I don’t have a clue!” We all watched as this illuminating blue spotted eel look-alike sporting an elongated duck bill swam like a snake on the surface. My father always said, and I have learned from past experience, “Anything caught as pretty as this might possibility be poisonous.’’

Touching should not be an option because the creature could possibility sting, fin, or bite you causing a painful situation. While keeping all of this in mind I carefully tried to remove the hook that was lodged in this fish’s bill. While I was doing this, the fish just basically swam in neutral by the boat. It wasn’t jumpy as most fish are once hooked up. As soon as I successfully removed the hook all of us watched as the fish swam off with more of its body out of the water than under it.

When I got home I immediately sent a picture of this fish to Spud Woodward with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. It didn’t take him long to identify and send information back to me. Spud’s email was short and to the point: “The consensus of the DNR fish experts is this is a blue spotted cornet fish and certainly not an everyday catch.”

Photo by Captain Judy Helmey
Photo by Captain Judy Helmey

While bottom fishing in the sound and ocean we caught another strange, but interesting fish in our area. It was a sea robin, which is also known as a gurnard. It is a brownish fish that comes equipped with a fine set of wings, but it doesn’t use them for taking flight. They are used for sweeping things to eat up from the bottom. With wings expanded, the sea robin hovers close to the bottom creating its own personal upwelling, which pushes up its potential meals. The head section is hard like a helmet and comes complete with built in swords which point backwards. With this fish’s built in protection it would seem that a predator might think twice before trying to make them a quick snack.

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