This welder by profession and angler by passion just landed himself a 121-pound blue skate, a remarkably rare catch for many reasons.
34-year-old Kirkwall resident Garry Mouzon still can’t believe his luck. Fishing off Hatston Pier, the angler brought in an absolutely mammoth skate. To catch these relatives of stingrays and sharks is rare enough in itself, but to catch a blue skate – one of the U.K.’s most critically endangered species – is a true marvel.
Mouzon’s 121-pounder is a big fish, there’s no doubt. Yet these giants of the ocean can weigh over 200-pounds. Regardless of size, Garry tells local Orcadian that he’s been trying “for months” to catch the “elusive fish.”
“The one I caught was a male, and the females are usually bigger,” Mouzon cites of the size of his catch. “So I’ll be going back to look for the girlfriend next!”
Of his remarkable catch, Blue Planet Society would tweet saying: “An extremely rare catch from a pier. Almost wiped out by bottom trawling, common skates are considered one of the UK’s most endangered species.”
The conservation group’s note is paramount. The IUCN lists the blue skate – which is also known by the far less-apt ‘common skate’ moniker – as critically endangered. As a result, whenever an angler catches one, they are to be strictly catch and release.
Critically Endangered Skate is Strictly Catch & Release
As for Garry, he did exactly that. Before returning his prize to the cold oceans off the U.K. coast, however, he was able to get an estimated weight courtesy of friends Martyn Lennie and Graham Lowrie, Orcadian reports. They did so by measuring the skate’s length and width.
“From wing to wing, the skate measured 1,510mm. It was 1,925mm from nose to tail,” the team notes.
Yet Garry has his eyes on a far bigger prize. The International Game Fish Association world record for blue skate is held by a 214-pounder caught off the coast off Orkney, U.K. in 1968.
Mouzon aims to break that record.
With the scientific classification Dipturus batis, the blue skate is the largest skate in the world. Their large weight – as demonstrated by the ’68 world record – comes in tandem with their massive length of 9+ feet.
In decades past, these fish were abundant in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Populations exist in the Mediterranean Sea, too. Yet both, despite the moniker of the “common skate,” appear to be largely absent from both enormous bodies of water. This is due to egregious overfishing of the species, both targeted and otherwise.
As a result, blue skates are currently under the protection of the EU. Whether this will impact anglers in the future – and Mouzon’s hopeful record-breaking – however, is currently unknown.