Japanese fisherman Hiroshi Hirasaka has an unusual hobby. He likes to catch and eat exotic and bizarre-looking creatures.The avid hunter has even outlined his conquests in a book called "Exotic Fish Species: I Caught, Judged and Tried Eating." Hence, you can only imagine his delight when he reeled in yet another scary looking specimen off the coast of Japan's Hokkaido Island, on August 30th.
Though the alien-looking fish whose massive mouth covers almost half its body appears to be something out of a science-fiction movie, it is just a specimen of the wolffish that dwell on the floors of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The only difference? Hirasaka's 2-meter long catch is almost twice the size of typical members of the deep sea dwellers that measure about 1.2 meters in length.
The fish's unusually large size has led some to speculate that it may be a mutant caused by the meltdown of Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Plant in 2011. Triggered by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, it was one of the world's biggest nuclear disasters that spewed massive amounts of radiation into the ocean. Since then, fish in the area have been found to have as much as 2,500 times the legal, safe radiation limit.
However, Timothy Mousseau one of the world's leading researchers on the effects of radiation on wildlife strongly disagrees. He says it is "extremely unlikely" that the fish's size has any connection with the ocean contamination around Japan. According to the expert, the effects of mutation usually reduces growth rates and makes things smaller. In marine animals that is detrimental because it decreases their capability to catch food, which in turn lowers their lifespan.
The expert does, however, admit that a few that mutations could result in the extra-large size. The only way to tell for sure whether this latest headline-making wolffish is just a freak of nature or a mutant is if additional extra-large specimens are found.
As for what Hirasaka thinks about the controversy his giant catch has created? He doesn't care. He is just thrilled at the opportunity to be able to add "this cool guy" to the long list of exotic creatures he has caught and tasted.
Resources: dailystar.co,uk, dailymail.co.uk,Ibtimes.co.uk