A Strange Catch

By Robert Janelle

Originally Published in the Kingston Whig-Standard March 1st, 2006

Things got weird at the Rock-port Winter Carnival’s fishing derby when a pike with two mouths was caught recently.

Shortly after daybreak, Lansdowne’s Brad Gipson pulled the strange fish out of the St. Lawrence Seaway. At first, the 36-year- old was puzzled by his catch.

“I just didn’t know what it was until I looked at it closer,” he said. “Sure enough, it was a double-mouthed pike.”

Many in the derby laughed at the strange three-pound fish, while others were simply curious for a glimpse.

“I’ve never caught anything like that before,” he said.

According to Caleb Hasler, a master’s student at Queen’s University’s Biological Station, the extra mouth was likely caused by a genetic mutation early in the fish’s development.

“It’s like when a baby is born with an extra digit,” he said.

The other possibility he suggested was that the fish was attacked by another fish and the injury took on the appearance of another mouth.

However, he discounted the possibility that the fish’s mutation was caused by environmental pollution – unlike Blinky, the fabled three-eyed fish from The Simpsons that lives in the stream next to the nuclear power plant.

“It’s highly unlikely that it would be a toxin in the water,” Hasler said. “It looked healthy from the photo I saw.”

A similar fish was caught late last year in Lincoln, Neb. In that case, the second mouth was also attributed to a genetic mutation, although the fish was sent to Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology to be studied further.

Unfortunately for Gipson, he didn’t score any extra points for his strange catch, but he did place fourth overall in the derby.

“I was kinda hoping there’d be an oddity prize,” said Gipson.