PHOTO: Florida Angler Lands Fish That Looks Identical To a Tortilla

by Matthew Memrick

A Florida angler came away with a tortilla-looking fish recently and threw it back.

But not before finding out what it was.

According to USA Today, Thomas Bosworth caught a round white fish with brown specks. He took a picture of it, threw it back, and reached out to wildlife officials for some help identifying it in the image.

They reported back that it was an orange filefish.  

It’s a good thing the Florida angler tossed the fish. Many fishers toss them back in because the bottom-feeding fish are not suitable to eat and more of a diver finds an aquarium. Some retailers sell the fish from $30 to $80.

The fish is also associated with ciguatera poisoning. Eating a filefish can bring about symptoms in 30 minutes. Itching, tingling, and numbness on the lips, tongue, hands, and/or feet come first. Afterward, the real pain comes with cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin rash. Other symptoms are also present.

The fish is not always orange, too. The Florida Museum has identified orangish-yellow, olive-gray, or milky white versions. 

The fish can grow to 24 inches and roams much of the western Atlantic Ocean. Some are in the eastern part of that ocean.

Don’t Eat If You Don’t Know The Fish

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission praised Bosworth for tossing the fish back, saying, “if you can’t identify it, release it.”

Fans took to the FWC’s Facebook post to give the fish names. One woman just dubbed the Florida angler’s fish a “tortilla fish” with her photo. 

As for the fish, the filefish are picky eaters. They can eat Mysis, brine shrimp, and gel-based foods. However, some starved to death rather than eat some kinds of coral.

Popular Science said the fish’s natural defense is changing its odor to hide from predators. The fish can make itself smell like a coral reef. 

According to a 2014 study, the fish do not mix well with coral at aquariums.

Odd Fish Like The Filefish

Steve Wozniak (not the Apple guy) put together his top list of wild catches for Sport Fishing Magazine. The orange filefish was not on the list, but he did have a monkfish and a pink and yellow swallowtail.

Any angler can come up with a new find. According to National Geographic, there are 32,000 living fish species. That number is more than any other vertebrate species, including amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. 

Want to discover a new fish? You probably can, if you work hard enough. According to Current Results, there are 8,000 species of undiscovered fish, and 400 new fish every year means fish databases are updated constantly. 

And even last month, a rare 100-pound moonfish washed up on an Oregon beach. The three-and-a-half-foot-long fish is also called an opah fish.