Puffer fish stuck in a tree probably isn’t the nor’easter’s fault


A powerful nor’easter pounded New England last week, prompting coastal evacuations and causing flooding so extreme that water rushed into downtown Boston.

In the storm’s aftermath, a local, freelancing weather man, Peter Lovasco, who once contributed weather reports to The Gloucester Daily Times, tweeted a couple pictures of what appears to be some species of puffer fish or porcupine fish impaled on a Gloucester tree. 

But it’s quite unlikely that the storm propelled a porcupine fish out of the water and into a coastal tree. 

“It’s probably fake,” said Doug Adams, a research scientist at Cape Canaveral Scientific — an organization that performs ecological and environmental research along the Atlantic coast with government agencies and universities — in an interview.

Here’s why:

This kind of puffer fish doesn’t live anywhere near New England

“That particular species of puffer fish wouldn’t normally spend time in Massachusetts’s waters,” said Adams.

A puffed up puffer fish.

“It’s a tropical species — that alone is an indicator that it could be a joke.”

The New England Aquarium agrees:

“Three fish biologists at the Aquarium believe this to be a hoax, not necessarily by the person who took the picture,” an Aquarium spokesperson told Mashable.

That said, there are certainly “puffers” in New England waters — like the northern puffer — but they don’t have spines. 

It’s a novelty item, stuck in a tree

If the fish happened to be launched out of the water by the storm and then impaled on the tree, it would be dead and no longer capable of maintaining its inflated shape. 

A puffer fish ornament.

A puffer fish ornament.

It’s likely a dried out, taxidermied dead fish that is sold in Florida stores, and online. These ornaments are coated with some sort of taxidermy resin to keep their puffed form, said Adams.

“It can be found in lots of shell shops in Florida,” he said. “It’s a taxidermy-like fish that’s common in novelty shops. People even make lamps out of them.” 

Still, Lovasco maintains that the fish is “def[initely] real.”

But still, it’s far more likely that a devious Gloucester local stuck the dead, dried out fish on the tree for some unsuspecting resident to find. 

Strong winds, however do sometimes result in weird things being blown into bizarre places

A monster tornado in 2011 lodged all four legs of a chair into a wall in Joplin, Missouri. In 2005, a waterspout sucked frogs from a lake in Siberia and caused them to rain down on a nearby village. 

It’s possible, then, though pretty improbable, that a porcupine fish or puffer fish was impaled upon a tree by a nor’easter. 

“It’s highly unlikely,” said Adams.

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