On a first light, early morning walk along South Beach this time last year, I was surprised to find a huge fish lying on the sand at the high tide line from the night before. As graceful as it was there wasn’t a mark on it to suggest why it had died, not even a broken hook in its mouth. It measured exactly one metre in length, with huge scales, and it weighed around 20 kilograms. I sent photos and information on where it was found to Jeff Weir at the Dolphin Research Institute for proper identification. Jeff informed me that David Donnelly, their research officer who – according to Jeff – ‘knows his fish’, said it was a blue-eye trevalla.
The deep water fish, a stranger to our shore. Note John’s feet which provide some idea of the size of this fish.
According to David, there used to be a fishery for this species near Seal Rocks, but he’s not sure about now. David also said they are a snack of killer whales, particularly in depredation scenarios. With that I decided to do some research of my own and found that this fish has many common names, including Ant arctic butterfish, warehou and deepsea trevally to name a few. However, Hyperoglyphe antarctica from the family Centrolophidae nails it.
Found in southern oceans at depths between 40 and 1,500 metres, this delicacy can grow to 1.4 metres in length and 60 kilograms in weight. Studies show that eight- to twelveyear old, mature females can produce between two and eleven million eggs prior to spawning. Spawning appears to occur in an area north east of Tasmania during March and April, and – perhaps intentionally – in large masses of floating kelp. Blue-eye mainly feed on tunicates (Pyrosoma atlantica), better known as jellyfish. However, a range of fish is included in their diet along with molluscs, squid and crustaceans, and they can also be cannibalistic.
I contacted my brother Chris in Tassie, who loves his fish and knows The deep water fish, a stranger to our shore. Note John’s feet which provide some idea of the size of this fish. when the fishing boats arrive in the local harbour, to see if he ever gets the chance to buy some from the local co-op, ‘Yes if you’re quick enough! It’s a prize eat’. The mystery remains as to why this fresh specimen ended up on South Beach shores in Somers.