The cougar picture got me to thinking about something I came across years ago while on the ocean off Hollywood Beach in south Florida. I've posted the pics on TFF a few times over the years and just emailed the marine biologist today, that tried to figure it out at the time. Took three pictures of it with two different cameras, one digital, one film. It was the last night of the early lobster season and I didn't launch my kayak to go fishing until an hour or so before midnight, knowing all the late night lobster hunters would be turning in. Fished a few hours and caught nothing, couldn't even catch bait. By then it was 2 or 3 in the morning and instead of heading back to the beach and turning in for the night, I decided I'd try to get some rest on kayak and be in the prime fishing grounds when the sun came up 3 hours later. As moon came up lighting up the ocean I saw what I thought was a fire hose floating on the surface. Thought it probably fell off one of the freighters that were often entering or leaving Port Everglades a few miles to the north. The ocean was like glass that night, no current to speak of and during the hot summer season. As I became more curious of it I decided to paddle closer to get a good look. I quickly determined it wasn't a fire hose and my mind went into overdrive... intestine of something, giant umbilical cord, then sea serpent. I take two pictures, one with each camera. Paddle one direction looking for a head, don't find one but only blunt end and then paddle the entire length of it to other end while trying to determine accurate length. It was laid out in a stretched out S shape and though hard to determine accurate length in dark, I conservatively estimated it to be over 45 feet and maybe over 60 feet if laid out in straight line. My kayak is 14 feet long and I tried to move one kayak length at a time while paddling to other end. No head on other end either. I paddle around to opposite side of it and stick my paddle under it to lift it up. That's when things got really weird as there is a "branch" in body of the thing. It took me several tries to lift it up as is was so slippery it would slide off paddle before I could lift it. Decide to take a picture of it lifted out of water with both cameras and as I lift the last part of the thing appears. I'm really starting to get freaked out. Its been many years but somewhere along the line I decide I'm going to hack it with my gaff to take a piece back with me. Things get weird, I freak out, give up on hacking it and leave, just wanting to get away from it. Wait till sun comes up, fish an hour, decided to head back home and get on computer to find out what it is. End up giving pics and info to marine biologist from the University of Miami who tried for six months to determined what it was before telling me they had no idea.
First picture I took as I approached it.
Enlarged photo I made from section of first picture to better show what was going on under the surface. I could see small fish fry caught in web-like film that surrounded main body of thing...some dead some still kicking. I could also see what looked like little baby worms being formed.
Picture above is where I finally have worm lifted with paddle... take pictures and notice the part of creature attached below.
After taking this picture I decided to get away from it as fast as possible.
A good rule of angling philosphy is not to interfere with another fisherman's ways of being happy, unless you want to be hated.
Zane Grey, Tales of Fishes, 1919https://vimeo.com/73372194