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Toll Barn Veterinary Centre Limited via Facebook

7 Incisive Cases of Fish Surgery

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Toll Barn Veterinary Centre Limited via Facebook

People find a lot of pleasure in taking care of their pets—including fish. They may not snuggle with us, but fish do interact with their owners. When an injury or illness might require a trip to the vet, many fish owners do what they can to get their fish help—even surgery if need be. It's a delicate task to operate on a patient that requires constant water and a coat of protective slime. Here are seven surgeries in which vets came through for their finned patients.    

1. CONSTIPATION

A man took his ailing goldfish to Toll Barn Veterinary Centre in North Walsham, Norwich, UK. The goldfish was threatened by a dangerous case of constipation, and the only way to save its life was by surgery to remove the impaction.

At first the owner balked at the £300 cost, but then he changed his mind and decided to go for it. Veterinarian Faye Bethell anesthetized the fish and carefully removed a lump from its rectum, and another from its dorsal fin. The surgery on the three-inch fish took 50 minutes and was completely successful. Bethell had performed the operation once before on a carp, but the goldfish's small size required a more delicate touch. Bethell said the tricky part was the anesthetic. She carefully calculated the amount of anesthetic to add to the fish’s water. Once it took effect, she removed the fish from the water for surgery. During the procedure, water laced with anesthetic was washed through the fish’s mouth and gills.   

2. A PROSTHETIC EYE

Vancouver Aquarium via YouTube

A prosthetic eye for people is usually for cosmetic purposes. Outside of some high-tech experimental gadgetry, a glass eye will not restore sight. So why would you give a fish a prosthetic eye?

A yellowtail rockfish at the Vancouver Aquarium was being bullied by other fish because it has only one eye. The other fish apparently recognized this as a sign of a weakness, because the one-eyed fish wouldn't be able to see an attack coming from that direction. The vet thought a prosthetic eye might trick the other fish into thinking the rockfish had both eyes. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium, teamed up with Lesanna Lahner, staff veterinarian of Seattle Aquarium, to stitch a bright yellow fake eye onto the rockfish. You can watch that surgery on YouTube.

3. REMOVING A BRAIN TUMOR …

Lort Smith Animal Hospital via Facebook

A story about fish surgery was the top story in our 2014 Weird News roundup. Veterinarian Tristan Rich at Lort Smith Animal Hospital in North Melbourne, Australia, performed surgery to remove a tumor from a 10-year-old goldfish named George. The size of the tumor meant that George required four stitches and surgical glue to close up the hole left behind. After the surgery, the fish was placed in a clean bucket of oxygenated water to recover from the anesthetic. He was also given injections of antibiotics and pain reliever. George recovered from the surgery nicely and went home with his owner.

4. … AND THEN ANOTHER BRAIN TUMOR

Lort Smith via Facebook

Rich was confronted with another brain tumor in a goldfish in January 2016. The patient was a nine-year-old goldfish named Bubbles. Rich used the same “three bucket” method for administering anesthesia as he had for George: He put the fish in a bucket of water laced with anesthetic, used a second bucket of anesthesia water to wash the gills during surgery, and then placed the fish in a third bucket of water with no anesthetic to recover. The brain tumor was successfully extracted, and Bubbles’ owners were relieved and happy.  

5. AND 6. EYE REMOVAL AND CANCER SURGERY

Inglis Vets via Facebook

Inglis Veterinary Hospital in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, had a client with two goldfish suffering from cancer. Star had one eye that was massively swelled with a tumor. Exotic animal expert Brigitte Lord removed the eye with the assistance of a vet and an animal nurse. The other goldfish, named Nemo, had a cancerous lump removed on the same day, so the two fish were able to recover in the same tub of water. Janie Gordon, who keeps the fish together in her kitchen, paid £500 for the double surgery and was glad to take both fish home.

7. A PROSTHETIC JAW

A goldfish named Mr. Hot Wing was born without a lower jaw. This meant he couldn’t keep his mouth constantly open like a normal goldfish, and he struggled to breathe and eat. He was taken to Lehigh Valley Veterinary Dermatology in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for help. Brian Palmeiro, known as “the fish doctor,” figured he could make some sort of prosthetic to help Mr. Hot Wing. He fashioned a tiny plastic brace out of an old credit card and stitched the brace to the bottom of the goldfish’s mouth. It wasn’t the first time Palmeiro used credit card plastic to help a fish; he’s previously fashioned both splints and prosthetics from them for fish patients.

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8 Bizarre Creatures That Have Washed Ashore
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With an estimated 95 percent of the world’s oceans yet to be explored, science may never have a complete catalog of the various life forms that navigate their depths. Sometimes, these odd creatures come to us instead. Inclement weather, outside forces, or just plain bad luck have led to some strange sea dwellers washing ashore to confuse—and sometimes terrify—onlookers until they can be identified.

Most recently the fangtooth snake eel, or Aplatophis chauliodus, appeared in Texas to cause a stir following Hurricane Harvey. Here are a few more examples of puzzling creatures that have recently landed in the sand.

1. THE MONTAUK MONSTER // 2008

A screen shot of the Montauk Monster
Nat Geo Wild, YouTube

In July 2008, a photo of what looked like the demon that possessed Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters made the internet rounds. “The Montauk Monster,” so named because it was discovered on a beach in Montauk, New York, was a curious-looking carcass that was not immediately identifiable. The animal wasn’t available for autopsy—it was carted away by person or persons unknown—but zoologists asked by media to examine the photo were fairly certain it was a decomposing raccoon that had lost enough hair and skin to reduce its charms considerably. Later, a trio of men from nearby Shelter Island admitted to finding a dead raccoon and giving it a "Viking funeral" by setting it ablaze on the water. Whether that’s true or not, the “monster” was almost certainly the same as the one partial to rooting through your trash.

2. THE INDONESIAN KRAKEN // 2017

Death and decomposition can radically alter the appearance of a species that might otherwise be easily identifiable. Such was the case with the 49-foot-long creature that popped up above the water at Seram Island in Indonesia in May 2017.  The spongy, floating mass was initially mistaken for a giant squid before ocean conservationists pointed out a visible skull, jaw, and spine in some photos, making it far more likely that it was a baleen whale. Although they usually sink to the bottom after expiring, this one might have had bacterial gases keeping it afloat.

3. THE DEMON DOLPHIN OF SAKHALIN // 2015

The corpse that washed up on Sakhalin Island
Mystery Universe, YouTube

Ravaged either by the sea or by some kind of enemy—or both—the rotting corpse of a mystery creature washed up on Sakhalin, an island in Russia, in 2015. Its elongated beak led to early suspicions it was a dolphin, but observers were quick to point out that dolphins don’t have fur. That could’ve been some kind of skin deterioration, but eyewitnesses also claimed to have seen what looked like paws on the specimen. The best bet was that it was a bottlenose whale calf. Before a definitive conclusion was reached, the body washed back out to sea.

4. THE MADBALL OF CAPE TOWN // 2014

The off-putting fish that was found in Cape Town, South Africa
Chaoonnews, YouTube

Looking much like a Cenobite keychain, this fierce little creature was allegedly plucked from the sands of a Cape Town, South Africa resort area by a tourist. Appearing to have a body comprised mostly of a mouth, the fanged horror was photographed and sent along to the University of Cape Town’s biological sciences department. Their best guess? It’s Chorisochismus dentex, or a klipsuier, a nibbler that feeds on mussels. The corpse had dried out, disfiguring its already troubling features.

5. THE NEW ZEALAND SEA MONSTER // 2013

A creature that was a subject of controversy in New Zealand
Djinteressantevideos, YouTube

Roughly 30 feet long, with pointed teeth and a gaping maw, this creature found on New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty looked quite a bit like the logo from Jurassic Park. It was so battered that speculation ran from an alligator to a moray eel. Marine biologist Anton van Helden went on record saying it was likely a killer whale due to its distinctive tail: Orcas can be found in New Zealand.

6. A GIANT EYEBALL // 2012

Very little news that emerges out of Florida could be considered boring. And when things wash ashore there, it’s almost certainly going to capture national attention. In 2012, a perfectly-intact, softball-sized eyeball was found on Pompano Beach, just about 10 miles north of Fort Lauderdale. The eerie, disembodied ocular discovery was forwarded to fish and wildlife researchers, who declared it once belonged to a swordfish. It can be rare to find individual body parts ashore—so why an eye? Because it was appeared to be removed with a knife, experts believe a fisherman cut it out and tossed it in the water.

7. THE MARINE MONSTER // 2012

A South Carolina sturgeon that confused observers
nibiruexists, YouTube

Folly Beach in South Carolina was the site of an alarming discovery in 2012, when a bony-plated fish exceeding 10 feet in length was spotted on shore. The South Carolina Aquarium put speculation to rest by declaring it a sturgeon, a large bony fish with relatives dating back 350 million years—and which has been known to grow to be 500 pounds or more. Their eggs are often used for caviar, though presumably no one raided this one for a gourmet snack.

8. THE ROCH NESS MONSTER // 2015

A fanged sea creature found in England
InformOverload, YouTube

Hollingworth Lake near Littleborough, England sounds like the perfect setting for wonderful childhood memories of boating, fishing, and making lifetime bonds. Unfortunately, it was also briefly a contributor of nightmares, when a 5-foot-long, fanged creature washed up there in 2015. Likely a pike, residents said they had no idea anything so large lived in the water. One called it “something prehistoric.”

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Lonely Guests at This Belgian Hotel Can Rent a Goldfish for the Night
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International travel can be lonely, which is why one Belgian airport hotel provides guests with an optional companion: a pet goldfish, rented on a nightly basis for around $4 U.S., according to The Independent.

Located near the Brussels South Charleroi Airport, the Hotel Charleroi Airport in Gosselies has offered fish rentals for several years now. “The idea was to surprise our guests, as we always try to do,” hotel manager David Dillen told The Independent. “It’s brilliant to see how people react to it. They smile, they take pictures to put on social media. We rent a few fish per week.”

Word of the unconventional service spread after New Zealand radio producer Michelle Cooke tweeted a picture of one of the inn’s scaly sidekicks swimming in a glass bowl. “My friend is staying in a hotel in Belgium,” Cooke wrote in her post. “They've offered her the option of renting a fish for the night, in case she's lonely.”

The tweet went viral, with some social media users arguing that the service is unethical towards animals, or that the hotel’s fishbowls are too tiny. Dillen addressed these criticisms, saying the goldfish are healthy and well cared for, with a “big fish tank in the housekeeping department, with a shelter, oxygen, and plants,” as he told The Independent. “When we think it’s necessary, we put them there for a few days.”

That said, if you don't have a good track record with fish, we recommend sticking with regular hotel amenities like free breakfasts and fully stocked minibars.

[h/t The Independent]

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