Dama LeComte was out on a walk with her family at Sooke’s Whiffen Spit when her daughter Sadie spotted a fish in the distance. It was later identified as a King-of-the-salmon, a deep water fish. (Dama LeComte photo)

Rare fish washes onto Whiffin Spit in Sooke

Deep water fish identified as ‘King-of-the-salmon’

Dana LeComte couldn’t believe her eyes as she stared down at one massive eye staring back at her at Whiffin Spit on Saturday.

“It looked like a piece of metal from off a boat,” said the Sooke woman. “The fish was very long and very flat with a really neat fin down the top of it.”

Her 15-year-old daughter Sadie had just pointed out something silver a few hundred metres away as the family walked along the popular Sooke spot.

The mom-daughter duo quickly sent a photo back to Dana’s husband, Bob Liptrot, who was able to identify the fish from his copy of Saltwater Fish of British Columbia.

It was a Trachipterus altivelis, better known as King-of-the-salmon. Folklore has it the Makah, an Indigenous people on the Washington side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, believed the fish would lead salmon back to their spawning ground every year.

According to Marine Detective, a blog ran by co-founder and researcher for the Marine Education and Research Society Jackie Hildering, killing a King-of-the-salmon was not allowed, as it was believed to stop the salmon run from taking place.

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The slim, silver fish can be found from the Gulf of Alaska to Chile, specifically in deep water down to 9,000 metres, or 3,000 feet.

Without a fishy scent, LeComte believes the wide-eyed fish must have recently washed onto shore.

This isn’t the first time the King-of-the-salmon has been spotted on the South Island.

Hildering pointed out that the first one was found near Oak Bay on Sept. 21, 2017, with another a few days later on Sept. 26. A third was found in Sidney on Oct. 29 of the same year.

Three years later, LeComte has found the fourth.

“I left it there even though my husband said we should’ve brought it home,” LeComte chuckled. “Someone I knew ran down to find it back at Whiffin Spit a few hours later, and it was gone.”

READ MORE: Rare spider sneaks out of hiding in Langford


 

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aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

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