"Pig Fish" Tastes Like Bacon!

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Pig Fish

Pigfish Photo Fish With Pig Snout

Circulating via social media and forwarded email, an "amazing photo" of a fish with a snout resembling that of a pig. Delicious or nonexistent?

Description: Viral image / Photo hoax
Circulating since: Feb. 2013
Status: Fake / False

Text example #1:
As shared on Facebook, Feb. 20, 2013:

Amazing new fish discovered in Arkansas.

Text example #2:
As shared on Facebook, March 12, 2013:

This 'pig-nose fish', was found in the dam of Clanwilliam,flowing waters of the Burg Rivers of Cape Town, Sout Africa. I have never seen one of these critters but doubt it that it would be kosher or halaal ;-)

Text example #3:
As shared on Facebook, March 6, 2014:

A new species of fish has been discovered in Texas creeks. It's know as the Wild Hogfish and can be extremely aggressive, and their numbers are increasing like crazy. Very tasty, a little like bacon, they are good eatin'. Once reintroduced domestically, they become goldfish.

Analysis: Whether you call it a "pigfish," "wild hogfish," or "pig-nose fish," the verdict of science remains the same — no such species as the one depicted above exists.

There do exist a few real species popularly known as "pigfish," but none of them resemble the fanciful chimera in the viral image. Orthopristis chrysoptera, found throughout the Gulf of Mexico and known in Texas as a pigfish or "piggy perch," for example, is thought to have gotten its name from the chattering and grunting noises it makes with its throat teeth. It looks nothing like the critter pictured above.

There's also a tropical species, Lachnolaimus maximus, that is commonly called a "hogfish," but, again, this is not that animal.

Should there remain any doubt, there is no species of fish, to my knowledge, that tastes like bacon. Nor could I find any reference to such a creature in my research. Nor, in point of fact, should we expect to encounter a fish that naturally tastes like bacon, given all that goes into making bacon taste the way it does: pork, fat, curing salts, the curing and smoking process itself.

The image

The composite image was created by altering an existing photo of a perfectly ordinary fish to give it a swine-like snout and ears. Nicely done. I haven't been able to establish where or when the Photoshopped pic originated, or who produced it, but it has been in circulation since February 2013, if not before.

Arkansas TV weatherman Todd Yakoubian has written about the role he played in the dissemination of the image, which he says was sent to him by a viewer. "I never produced or edited the photo myself," he wrote on his blog. "I immediately knew it was not real, but thought it was funny." Naturally, he posted it on Facebook, adding the tongue-in-cheek caption, "Amazing new fish discovered in Arkansas :)."

"I even put a little smiley face at the end to hint it was a joke," he wrote. Never underestimate the gullibility of the Internet. A year later the image had been shared more than 220,000 times, and Yakoubian was still getting message from people all over the world asking if it's real.

More unlikely beasts:
A Long, Long, Long Snake
Multi-Headed Cobra
The Rainbow Owl

Sources and further reading:

Pigfish (Orthopristis chrysoptera)
Texas Parks & Wildlife

Biological Profile: Hogfish
Florida Museum of Natural History

The Pig Fish ... The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
Arkansas Weather Blog, 9 March 2014