Story last updated at 3:27 p.m. Thursday, November 21, 2002

A ratfish by any other name
Ray Troll, the Ketchikan fish artist, received a unique prize from ichthyologists recently. He had a southern Pacific Ocean ratfish named after him.

The Hydrolagus trolli was identified as a unique species about a year ago and can be found in the waters off New Zealand and New Caledonia.

"It's kind of nice to be able to name a species for someone," said Dominique Didier Dagit, assistant curator of ichthyology at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. "I thought, 'Here's my chance to name a fish for someone who's really interested."

Ratfish have a history that dates back some 350 million years. They are related to sharks and have a spotted body and a long, rat-like tail.

According to Dagit, there is apparently somewhat of a resemblance between Troll the artist, and Hydrolagus trolli, the ratfish.

"It kind of looks like him, (but) less facial hair," she said.

Troll's art can be found in gift shops throughout the Pacific Northwest and often takes a humorous look at life through fish eyes. T-shirts with the titles "Spawn Till You Die" and "Cod in the Act" adorn the backs of Alaskans and visitors alike.

Troll and Dagit met through a mutual appreciation for the ratfish, which Troll admits, is a small club.

"It's not a big world of ratfish enthusiasts out there," he said.

Dagit said the name will stay with the fish forever, and that it couldn't have come from a bigger ratfish supporter.

"This fish is named in his honor for his valiant efforts to increase ratfish awareness worldwide," Dagit wrote.

-- The Associated Press