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Charlie the Tuna Strikes Back

Charlie the Tuna ain’t no chicken of the sea! (Sodahead)

The benefits of a diet rich in fish and seafood have been widely documented. And of all the delicious fish swimming around our world’s seas and oceans, few compare in terms of health and nutrition to tuna. The so-called chicken of the sea—to borrow a slogan from the popular Star-Kist canned fish once advertised by the lovable cartoon character, Charlie the Tuna—is popular all over the world for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, vitamin content, omega-3 benefits and, most importantly, its flavor. As such, fishermen everywhere pursue the many species of tuna in the hopes of providing customers with top-quality fish while also cashing in on its popularity.

One such fisherman is Anthony Wichman, a 54-year-old angler in Koloa, Hawaii.

Last Friday, Wichman took his 14-foot boat roughly ten miles off the coast of Kauai to try to catch some of the delicious and profitable fish. Luckily—or so he thought at the time—he eventually snared one hell of a tuna, a 230-pound beast that he fought for more than an hour before finally pulling the monstrous ocean-dweller aboard.

And that, unfortunately, is when things went horribly wrong.

“He gaffed [impaled] it once in the back and once in the eye and that caused the fish to take a final dive and he dove straight down,” Wichman’s daughter Anuhea said later. “The line wrapped around my dad’s ankle and pulled him overboard.”

Things were looking pretty grim for Wichman as he descended into the dark ocean depths, dragged under by the very fish he thought he defeated only moments earlier. In a panic and fearing for his life, he finally managed to break free and used his safety line to pull himself up to his capsized boat. Of course, that still left him floating miles from shore with no real hope of rescue. Then he remembered a piece of equipment lying unused in his pocket: his waterproof cell phone.

Wichman immediately placed a call to his daughter, who had trouble understanding exactly what was happening to her panicked father.

“All I could hear was him hyper-ventilating and puking,” she said. “And through his breathing, he was able to say three words: sinking, Coast Guard and buoy.”

Wichman with his catch (US Coast Guard)

Anuhea notified the Coast Guard and using his cell phone’s GPS—as well as some assistance from 911 operators—rescuers were able to pinpoint Wichman’s position. A helicopter soon arrived on the scene to deploy a diver, who helped Wichman aboard. And according to local news station KOHN, all he suffered were minor scrapes and bruises, not to mention some rope burn.

At least he was alive, though, and that is obviously what is most important.

Following his rescue, a few of Wichman’s friends went to retrieve and tow his boat back to shore when they made an amazing discovery: the huge tuna was still hooked to it! Needless to say, Wichman and his family rewarded the fisherman by letting them keep the delicious beast, which I’m sure will feed their own families for weeks to come.

In the battle of man against fish, the upper hand almost always belongs to humans. Of course, if Charlie the Tuna had his way on Friday, things would have worked out much differently for Wichman. And instead of sitting down to a delicious seafood dinner with his catch of the day, he himself might have been the meal. I hope he remembers this and takes a buddy with him next time… or at least a life vest!

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