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One man’s treasure is a fish’s trash.
A common mullet fish was spotted in the southern Pacific Ocean looking like a thousand bucks — by reasonable estimates.
Earlier this week, travel writer and avid snorkeler Susan Prior, who lives on Australia’s Norfolk Island, shared images of a silvery mullet fish, no more than a few inches long, with a gold wedding band wrapped around its head.
Prior is used to seeing these tiny fish sporting similar collars, usually made of plastic, which likely come from discarded “plastic juice and milk bottles,” she said, which so often end up in the ocean.
“Sometimes these rings escape into the wild, and this is the sad consequence,” Prior said in a May 11 blog post on her website.
But one mullet recently caught her eye for its particularly flashy new accessory.
“This one looked a shiny metallic gold, with a lot less algal growth compared to the plastic ones,” she wrote, referring to past mullets she’s seen with a similar look.
Although it’s certainly not uncommon for swimmers to lose their rings in the water, Prior also remembered that someone from Norfolk Island had in fact lost their gold band recently.
“I recalled that someone had posted on our local community social media pages about a large man’s wedding ring that had gone missing in the bay earlier this year, so I decided to see if I could find the possible owner,” she explained. “It didn’t take long for my suspicion to be confirmed; we now have a poor mullet weighed down with someone’s (expensive) gold wedding ring.”
However, she was unable to return the ring since she couldn’t catch up to the fish. According to Prior, who takes daily swims in the ocean, mullets are uniquely susceptible to picking up rings.
“Mullet snuffle through the sand looking for food, making it so easy for a ring or hair tie to flip over their noses and get stuck,” she wrote.
The amateur underwater photographer also pointed out that, valuable or not, these fish are being hampered by the added weight and algal growth, and at risk of being “slowly strangled,” she wrote. “The mullet has a life to live and it’s only fair he gets to live it.”
She also reminded her readers that, if we can’t keep trash from settling on the seabed, we can at the very least take steps to prevent harm to marine life.
“It is such a quick job to [pry] the collar off the bottle and snip it before putting it in your waste,” she wrote.
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