A monster fish described by its discoverers as looking like “half a mutilated shark” may well have established a new world record.
Paddle boarders Rich German and Matt Wheaton were in the sea near the US city of Laguna Beach, California, when they encountered an enormous sunfish.
Mr German said: “My buddy, Matt, and I were just paddling and came across it… it was hard to miss! It was nine to 10 feet long, way bigger than myself.
“It’s hard to compare a sunfish to other creatures because they are so bizarre looking – they look like a mutilated shark that got bitten in half. I’ve seen many over the years but this was definitely the biggest.”
According to the Guinness World Records, the world’s largest bony fish by weight was another sunfish caught in 1996 off Kamogawa – a city in Chiba, Japan.
That specimen weighed 2,300kg and measured 8ft 11in long – and though the two men didn’t measure the fish they encountered, they’re confident it was bigger.
“Well we didn’t catch it or have a measuring tape but the largest sunfish on record is 8ft 11in,” said Rich, 52.
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“Matt’s board is 14ft long," he added, "and if you look at the pics you can see for yourself how big it looks.
I would guess it was at least nine to 10 feet long… my buddy and I were blown away when we saw it.”
Julianne Steers of Beach Ecology Coalition said there was only one way to say for sure if it was a record-breaking specimen.
“The only true way to know is if it was out [of the water] and weighed and officially measured,” she told the OC Register.
“But it does look much larger than what we typically see out here.”
Mr German, who founded Project O – a non-profit organisation dedicated to ocean conservation – has been out in the water almost every day for over a decade.
But this encounter shows that, even for him, the sea still holds surprises.
He said: “I’ve been paddling here in Laguna Beach pretty much every day for the past 12 years and I’ve had over 2,000 encounters with dolphins and whales.
“This was more proof that you never know what you will see out on the ocean!”
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