by Erin Loury Ichthyology Lab
No, this isn’t an elaborate fish puppet you’re looking at – it’s a Giant Grenadier caught in the depths of Monterey Bay on a research cruise. If it looks a little worse for wear (that pink color is from all its scales falling off), it’s because the fish was pulled up from a depth of around 1,000 feet. Like most deepsea fishes, the different species of grenadier tend to grow slowly, reproduce late in life, and can live to be quite old (several decades) – all of which makes them susceptible to overfishing.
Yes, believe it or not, fishing is a real issue for these squishy critters. Grenadier now makes an appearance on the West Coast version of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s new 2010 Seafood Watch pocket guides. And they’re in the red – that’s the “Avoid” section. In addition to a slow-growing life history, the fishery for grenadier is virtually unregulated, and often the result of destructive deepsea trawling. This is all good news you can use – I recently saw grenadier on a menu for the first time. Now I know to steer clear.
Curtailing demand for this fish probably wouldn’t be a problem if people only knew what it looked like – besides, how appetizing is something also called a “rattail”?
Thanks for the photo, Mariah!