Biologist thinks jellyfish may have lured 300-pound sunfish to Puget Sound
SEATTLE - There's something fishy happening at a West Seattle restaurant, and in this case it's NOT what's on the menu but rather what's outside.
A 300-pound sunfish caught off Elliott Bay earlier this week has created quite the buzz around town after the owner of Sunfish Fish & Chips put the massive catch on display Wednesday.
A local fisherman discovered the massive fish when he pulled up his gill net Tuesday night. Instead of keeping the fish or tossing it back into the water, the fisherman called Michael Vassiliou and asked the restaurant owner if he wanted it.
"I thought it was a joke," said Vassiliou. "It surprised the heck out of me for sure."
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, sunfish sightings in the Puget Sound are pretty rare but have, on occasion, happened in the past.
"It may have gotten entrained in a warm cell and found itself in the Sound following its food supply," said Bob Pacunski, a marine fish biologist with Fish and Wildlife.
The sunfish is known to primarily munch on jellyfish, and Pacunski said it wouldn't surprise him if that's what this particular specimen was after.
"We've been hearing reports that jellyfish numbers are higher than normal in the Puget Sound," he said. "I got a sense of that this year when I was out doing some personal fishing. It's one of those boom or bust things."
Pacunski said sunfish are not a categorized fish, according to Washington state fishing regulations, so the fisherman could have kept it and ate it - although he doesn't know how good it would taste.