As another reminder that the sea is one hell of a weird place, a fisherman has taken photos of a bloated pink “alien fish” that he caught on a recreational fishing trip in Mexico.
The shark was caught by Jaime Rendon, captain of the ship "Dr. Pescado," around 110 meters (370 feet) off the coast of Los Cabos, Baja California Sur. After realizing he caught something rather unusual, and presuming it could be a rare species, Rendon released it back to sea where it happily swam off.
According to a Facebook post, Rendon said: "I was really surprised but what caused most impact were the eyes, so strange."
Pisces Sportfishing Fleet said they have talked to fishing experts and scientists, who believe the specimen is a swell shark. Indeed, it’s hard to identify an animal purely by a few photos, although a swell shark – with their characteristic bloated bellies – with a condition that affects pigmentation seems to be an appropriate stab.
It’s likely the swell shark has leucism, as opposed to albinism, as this condition generally results in a less severe absence of pigment. This too would explain the swell shark’s pigmented eyes.
Even when they’re not this unique coloring, swell sharks (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) are fascinating creatures. When threatened by a predator, they fill a specialized sack under their belly full of water – hence the name “swell.” Not only does this make it harder for predators to fit them in their mouths, it also prevents them from being pulled out of rocky nooks and crannies by predators.