Fish seen regurgitating 8-legged creature on deck of fishing boat, NOAA says

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NOAA Fisheries photo

The idea of fish vomit is likely revolting to most people, but one sailor was left absolutely giddy after witnessing a fish throw up during a NOAA Fisheries research project in the Gulf of Maine.

Captain Eric Hesse of the commercial fishing boat Tenacious II witnessed the “wow-worthy” moment when a surprising creature emerged from the insides of a fish over the fall, according to a NOAA science blog.

“As a large white hake came onboard, it regurgitated a recent eight-legged meal right in front of Eric,” NOAA reported. “We heard an excited shout. Expecting a large halibut, we peered around the corner to see Eric excitedly holding the small animal.”

A photo shared by NOAA shows the creature — about a foot long — was reminiscent of a large piece of creamy mucus. Hesse wisely picked it up with a hook, rather than his fingers, the photo shows.

“We’ve preliminarily identified it as a glowing sucker octopus, a small deepwater bio-luminescent species,” NOAA reports.

Finding such an octopus was on Hesse’s bucket list.

However, it happened “in an unexpected way,” officials said.

Glowing-sucker octopuses are a small species, no bigger than 18 inches, and they glow via “a single row down each arm flash on and off,” according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The species thrives in deeper waters of the Northwest Atlantic (about 8,200 feet) and are “most abundant from the western Gulf of Maine through southern New England waters.”

The fate of the dead octopus was not revealed.

It was caught during a fall NOAA fish stock survey, which uses longline commercial fishing boats to gather data on species that “prefer rocky habit” on the sea floor.

“Scientists incorporate data from this survey into stock assessments and use it to answer questions about species distribution shifts and ecosystem dynamics,” NOAA says.

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