LOOKING BACK: horror as human head discovered inside cod
TUESDAY AUGUST 29, 2000
THE grisly find of an entire human head inside a giant cod is that of a fisherman missing off Townsville since Sunday.
Workers at a Cairns seafood wholesaler made the discovery when filleting the flowery cod.
The intact head, discovered inside the 44kg fish at A Fine Kettle o' Fish in Cairns, was taken away in a body bag by police.
Business director Peter Monson said he was shocked at the horrific discovery.
He said one of his workers had just started to fillet the 1.28m fish, which was delivered on ice, when the head was revealed.
"He called us all over because he didn't believe it and it came as a shock to everyone," Mr Monson said.
"Cods do swallow things without chewing. The cods have a huge mouth span.
"We've had one before with a whole 9kg chinaman fish inside it, but nothing like this.
"I don't think it would happen again in 100 years."
A Fine Kettle O' Fish managing director Graeme Hopkirk said workers were still coming to terms with the horror find.
"It was an unfortunate incident … it was found while we were processing other fish as well," he said.
"We really just want to get back to work."
Police had earlier refused to speculate on whether the head could be that of a missing fisherman off the coast of Townsville since Sunday, but the remains were those of Michael Peter Edwards, 39, of Cairns.
Mr Edwards disappeared from the Cairns-based commercial line fishing boat Loray early Sunday near Slashers Reef, about 95km north of Townsville.
His disappearance was reported to police and the boat remained where it was until a detective could be winched on board to investigate.
It was the Loray that caught the same cod that had the head inside its stomach.
Senior Sergeant Peter Wright of Townsville CIB said forensic scientists using dental records had identified the head as being that of Edwards and police were making no further inquiries.
"We are not treating it as suspicious and the cause of death is now up to the coroner," Wright said.
A James Cook University academic says it is highly unlikely that a cod would attack and eat a live human being.
Dr Geoff Jones from JCU's school of marine biology said there had been a few examples of cod biting the hands and feet of people at feeding sites, but these were regarded as accidental bites.
Dr Jones said he was not aware of cod having ever exhibited any sort of predatory behaviour towards humans.
He said there was always the possibility the body had been attacked by sharks and that the cod had swallowed the dismembered head.