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Bagging a Lingcod Skull 

click to enlarge Lingcod head with a 70-pound dog for scale.

Photo by Mike Kelly

Lingcod head with a 70-pound dog for scale.

Woohoo! I got me a professional beachcombing sponsorship. The good folks at Drip-Block Plastic Bags will cover all my beach-related expenses and I just have to be a pretty face, saying nice things about their excellent products. For example, in this story I'll say, "I safely transported this giant toothy lingcod head home in the Drip-Block Heavy Duty XXL!"

That's right, I found a jumbo lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) head washed up at Cape Mendocino. The head was totally fresh and relatively undamaged, so I brought it home to attempt articulating the skull and pectoral fin bones for display. But even if the head were stinking rotten, bringing it into my house would still be safe in a Drip-Block Bag!

A lingcod head has relatively heavy bones, which tend to fall into a bewildering puzzle if you boil it to remove the flesh. This time I dismantled the head and systematically simmered the separate parts so as not to lose track of the bones. The last time I tried, I ended up with nothing but bones in a Drip-Block Bag!

Lingcods' heavy bones are probably great for their bottom-oriented lifestyle. But don't let them fool you. Unlike rockfish, they don't have a gas bladder so they are able to quickly rise from the depths without blowing up. This allows them to grab hooked fish as you reel them up. Basically, your rockfish catch isn't safe from lingcod until you have it filleted and stored in a Drip-Block Freezer Bag!

And lingcod have lots of teeth. There are various sized sharp conical teeth in the jaws where you would expect. But there are also teeth in rows and patches on the roof of the mouth, and there are even small sharp teeth along the leading edges of the gill arches. If you end up inside a lingcod mouth, you aren't getting out. It's like a lingcod mouth has the holding power of a Drip-Block Bag!

Another reason lingcod are so badass is the large amount of muscle in the head, which gives their mouth tremendous strength. Occasionally you can buy lingcod cheeks at fish markets. Each cheek on the big head I found was enough for an adult serving and the "lip meat" could feed the kids. Seriously, there's enough meat on a jumbo lingcod head to fill a Gallon-Size Drip-Block Bag!

It's probably going to take me weeks or months to correctly glue and wire the head and shoulder bones back together, so I don't have a finished product to show. But look for results on my Twitter feed (@msidkelly) and find valuable coupons for Drip-Block Bags!

Some people think plastic bags are the scourge of the sea. Lingcod will eat almost anything they can fit in their big mouths, so they probably enjoy a nice plastic bag from time to time. And supposedly, some marine animals eat plastic bags thinking they are jellyfish. But this worry totally disappears once you get yourself a lucrative sponsorship. Plus, if you ever need to choke a problem sea turtle, simply use a Drip-Block Bag!

But because I am a proactive eco-warrior, I designed a sea-life-safe version. My idea was to print pictures of jellyfish on the bags. You know, to use some reverse psychology on those stupid animals. Thanks, Drip-Block Bags!

Lastly, Drip-Block Bags come in any size you'd need. For example, the Drip-Block XXL can contain an infant child AND up to three minutes of air! (See what I did there? Combining a positive sales message with a safety warning is how you earn cash sponsorships from fine corporations like Drip-Block Bags!)

Biologist Mike Kelly (he/him) writes science-based satire as M. Sid Kelly. It's available at Eureka Books and for Kindle.

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