British Columbia

'Very rare' King-of-the-Salmon fish found on Vancouver Island beach

Ben Baker was walking his dog along Oak Bay's Rattenbury Beach at low tide when he stumbled on the shimmering, purple fish.

Ben Baker spotted the fish at Rattenbury Beach in Oak Bay

Ben Clinton Baker holds the King-of-the-Salmon fish he found washed ashore in Oak Bay. Biologists told him to take the fish home and freeze it so it could be preserved. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Ben Clinton Baker walks his dog along the Oak Bay shorelines fairly regularly.

On Thursday, he was on Rattenbury Beach when he found something that's anything but regular: a thin, shimmering fish covered in purple scales and fringed with a red dorsal fin.

"It just stood out to me as something I'd never seen before and I've been walking these beaches most of my life," Baker said Friday.

It turned out to be a massive King-of-the-Salmon fish, measuring about two metres in length.

The current record for such a ribbonfish is 1.8 metres in length — which means Baker's find could be one of the biggest ever discovered. 

Biologist Jackie Hildering called it an "exciting" find. 

"It's remarkable-looking, it's incredibly thin ... it's an extraordinary fish," she said. "It's very rare to get such a good look at a large one that has washed ashore."

The long King-of-the-Salmon is an unusual find in Vancouver Island waters. Biologist say it's very rare to have one — let alone such a large one — wash ashore. (Ben Baker)

Baker said a biologist told him to take the fish home and put it on ice, in case experts want to preserve the animal for research.

Now the fish is chilling in Baker's freezer, waiting for someone to come and pick it up.

"I'm happy to give it to any researcher who wants to take a look," he told CBC Radio West. "If not, I guess it'll go back in the ocean where it came from.

"It's a real treat and privilege to have found it. Things like this are why I love living in the Oak Bay area."

With files from Jean Paetkau