Consider this: you’re scrolling, as you tend to do, through the internet—it is simply, in your mind, “the internet," because every website is the same now, every website is exactly the same now and I hate that, if we were to collectivise and simultaneously delete all our Facebooks at the exact same time this problem would be resolved but that will absolutely never happen, unfortunately, perhaps because deep down we like things this way, we like the simplistic community aspect of an internet comprised of exactly three viral stories at any given time, it’s just easier—and you come across a large fish. A monstrously enormous trout, or something, writhing pathetically in the arms of some once-in-a-lifetime lucky fisherperson. Cruelly reduced from King of the Sea to tragic trophy.
If you are me, you smile with a sick sense of pleasure and click through to read more. In a ranking of viral news items, I would place hideously large marine life ahead of even the vaunted long egg. I would prefer wasting five minutes at my desk reading about someone’s above-average-size piece of seafood to reading about Jennifer Aniston’s divorce, and I really care about Jennifer Aniston, more than I think most of her fakeass tabloid-leaking friends do, to be honest.
The shiny mystique of the large fish becomes apparent with today’s large fish story, that of a 68-year-old tourist, Sue Elcock, hauling in a 62 kilogram sea bass off the coast of Perth. “British woman catches fish the size of her sofa,” says LAD Bible. Her sofa! “She’s a legend!” says the Queensland Times. She is!
As with many a small time news item that gains international traction through Twitter and Reddit, each bland element of this woman’s fishing success combines with the others to become against all odds enthralling. A resident of Lillehalle in the United Kingdom, she was recently in the sunny seaside West Australian capital of Perth to visit her son, and took the opportunity to go charter fishing not once but several times over the course of her trip.
As charter boat captain Brendon Shinnick told local news outlets, Elcock had already gone on three other outings before embarking on the expedition that would go on to earn her brief online fame, and her fellow fishers were quietly unsure she was going to last the distance. However, as per Shinnick:
"It was 6 AM when she cracked open a beer and we set off at 4 AM. She stepped up, threw a line in and it hit the bottom of the seabed.”
Elcock’s efforts were rewarded with the capture of a grotesquely and cartoonishly large fish, greasy brown in colour and with bulging dinner plate-sized eyes. Every single fish in the ocean is inherently ugly to look at (please, change my mind) and so it stands to reason that if some freak biological circumstance has clicked free transform and dragged out the proportions of an otherwise ordinary looking fish then that fish is going to be exponentially uglier and weirder looking and, therefore, car crash level compelling. As is the case here.
Unfortunately—and this is the dark side of viral fish stories—Elcock chose not to return her fish to its watery kingdom and, presumably, ate it upon returning to shore. This is upsetting because if large fish catchers keep eating their large fish then, you have to expect, large fish will be gradually erased from the gene pool and I will have to create content about something else on a quiet Thursday afternoon. It’s strange to think that someone’s first instinct upon encountering a cool and unusual natural anomaly would be to prevent anyone else from experiencing it. Except for the fact that it isn’t strange at all, it happens all the time.
Even worse: You just know, by some ancient instinct, that a very large fish does not taste as good as a small one.
Elcock’s freaky fish catch chimes in nicely with the zeitgeist, appearing as it does off the back of the Academy Award-winning success of The Shape of Water, which I have not seen but believe to be some kind of aquatic porno.
Fish have always been present in the culture, though, and long may they remain. Let us continue to report on and celebrate them: for their ugliness, for their impressive size, for their pungent seasalty odour. Congratulations to all of the people chartering boats today—hoping for the big one, hoping that they too can be exclusively interviewed by The Sun, hoping that they too can crush a tinnie at 6 AM as the sun rises and the waves swell with the possibility of posing for the world's best Tinder profile picture.
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