A local fisherman discovered a recently deceased 500-pound fish Feb. 23 in Florida.
Daniel Armendariz, 23, of Cape Coral, and Sam Harmon, 24 pulled out the gigantic goliath grouper to raise awareness about the negative effects of freshwater released from nearby Lake Okeechobee, News Press reports. He was with a friend from Texas.
"We were about 20 minutes into our trip," Armendariz said as he recalled inspecting what they initially thought was the carcass of a manatee.
They soon realized it was the goliath grouper, a fish that can weigh up to 800 pounds and grow up to 8 feet in length.
"He was very fresh. It had to have died between 24 and 48 hours," Armendariz said.
"I'm thinking it's the low salinity [of the freshwater]," Armendariz said, trying to explain the animal’s death. "I can't be 100 percent sure."
Armendariz added he believes it might be the freshwater as it’s the first time he’s seen the devastating effect of it pouring into these waters.
Indeed, because of it, he said he’s been forced to fish farther out to sea.
However, officials report it’ll be another two to three weeks before the exact cause of death will be known.
"The cause of death is unknown at this time," a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman, Frank McCloy, said. "It could be anything. Testing will shed more light."
This isn’t the first time a goliath grouper in Florida has captured national attention.
National Geographic reports in November 2015 a group of goliath groupers engaged in a tug of war with Grayson Shepard while he was spearfishing.
“I weigh 220 lbs. [100 kilograms], and it dragged me easily 20 feet [6 meters] or so before letting go,” Shepard says.
Indeed the creatures may have been hunting down Shephard to catch his fish.
“[Were they] following the diver around? No question about it. They probably know his boat by the sound of it,” says R. Grant Gilmore, a fish ecologist at Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science, Inc.