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Now we know: Swordfish have huge blue eyeballs

October 15, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • The large eyeball that washed ashore in Florida.
The large eyeball that washed ashore in Florida. (Carli Segelson / Florida…)

A swordfish was the likely source of the big, blue eyeball that washed ashore in Florida last week, state officials said Monday.

The eyeball, about the size of a softball, was found on the sand near Pompano Beach, north of Ft. Lauderdale. The man who made the discovery said he was taking a walk when he spied the object amid the seaweed and detritus from the sea. He wrapped the orb in a plastic bag and contacted police, and the eyeball eventually made its way to state scientists.

The eyeball was sent to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, where experts got an eyeful.

"Experts on site and remotely have viewed and analyzed the eye, and based on its color, size and structure, along with the presence of bone around it, we believe the eye came from a swordfish," said Joan Herrera, curator of collections at the institute. Genetic testing will be performed to confirm the identification, she said.

The second mystery last week was how the eyeball got into the water. The Florida scientists have a theory on that as well.

"Based on straight-line cuts visible around the eye, we believe it was removed by a fisherman and discarded," Herrera said in a posting on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website.

Because of the blue color and size of the eyeball, scientists last week speculated that it came from a swordfish -- a variety that is a favorite of fishing enthusiasts this time of the year in the waters off South Florida.

Swordfish are a migratory fish and can be found as deep as 2,000 feet below the surface, according to the Florida agency's website posting.

They can also reach 1,100 pounds, more than big enough for a eye the size of the one found.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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