Fishermen Reel in Huge Bluefin Tuna Close to Shore

They say El Nino is causing warmer waters, luring larger catches closer to shore

A fishing boat captain said fishermen aboard his boat reeled in a sight he's never seen in his entire career.

Tuesday afternoon, a Point Loma Sportfishing boat called the New Lo-an came in with six huge bluefin tuna, each weighing between 120 and 175 pounds a piece. 

Throughout the captain's time on the sea, he said he has never seen fish this size come so close to San Diego.

Don Kuroye, who caught the largest, 175-pound tuna, credits the warm waters caused by El Nino with helping to draw big catches closer to shore.

He said when he got the fish on his line, he didn't realize how large it was until it started surfacing.

"Well without using any terrible words, it was like, 'Oh my god,'" said Kuroye. "And then my adrenaline was pumping. It was great."

He fought the fish for close to an hour to pull it into the boat, and he's still feeling the soreness -- a good soreness, he said. The fish is about three times the size of his typical catch this time of year.

Kuroye plans to make some delicious sushi and sashimi from his fish.

Scientists at the Pacific Southwest Fisheries agree that what's happening off the coast is unprecedented. Larger fish and bigger schools of fish are staying around later in the year.

"These adult fish are usually back in their nursery grounds in the western Pacific by now," said NOAA's Toby Garfield, "so the fact that they're still here is most probably related to the warm water."

Garfield told NBC 7 the above normal temperatures in the Pacific started in the winter of 2013-2014.

The water is about three degrees warmer than normal at the moment, he said, which is enough to change were the marine food supply is going.

Garfield connected that change to why they've seen a record number of malnourished seals and sea lions showing up on California beaches in the past couple of years.

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