ADELAIDE: A giant sunfish left an Australian fishing crew stunned after they found it washed up on a beach in South Australia.
Social worker Linette Grzelak told Channel NewsAsia that the fish was found by her partner Steven Jones with his cockle fishing crew on Saturday evening (Mar 16) at the Coorong National Park in south Australia.
"Steven thought it was a piece of driftwood at first," said the 39-year-old, adding that she had assumed the fish was fake when she first saw the pictures.
"I asked him what the hell is that? When he said sunfish, I said that I thought it was fake, but if it was in fact real it needed to (be) documented."
"I had never seen or heard of a sunfish before," she added.
The sunfish was washed back into the water, Ms Grzelak told Channel NewsAsia, adding that the fishing crew had no phone reception and could not call for the fish to be collected.
WORLD'S LARGEST BONY FISH
The sunfish is the world's largest bony fish, and can weigh more than a car, according to National Parks South Australia.
"Our park of the month at Coorong National Park served up an unusual surprise for two fishers on the weekend – a sunfish that washed up on to the beach," it said in a Facebook post. "These huge beauties are the world’s largest bony fish and can weigh more than a car."
According to Ms Grzelak, the fish her partner found was 6 feet long (1.8m) and 8 feet high (taking into account both fins).
She added that her partner had recognised the sunfish as he was a fisherman and also loves watching ocean documentaries.
"Steven has been a professional fisherman for years and loves ocean documentaries so he has heard of them sinking yachts and seen them on TV," she said.
She added that he said the fish's skin was "rough and leathery like a rhinoceros".
In the comments section of its Facebook post, National Parks South Australia provided updates and more information on the fish after "a chat" with the South Australian Museum.
"There’s no way of knowing why this specimen died. It seems healthy looking and without any obvious injuries. Although sunfish spend much of their time well offshore in the ocean and can dive to great depths in search of food, it’s not uncommon for them to come close to shore if there are good numbers of jellyfish to feed on."
The organisation added that two or three sunfish stayed around the Victor Harbor Bluff and Waitpinga Cliffs for about a week in 2018, "apparently feeding on Jimble Jellyfish that were present in large numbers".
Another sunfish was filmed swimming around a jetty on Kangaroo Island in late January this year.
"So, it wouldn’t be all that uncommon for them to be off the Coorong, but they’d most likely be just passing through rather than resident in the area. They can swim great distances and seem to be always on the move."