Picorocos–Aliens from the Deep

31 Jul

During my lifetime I have developed a taste for a variety of foods. I have enjoyed culinary delights of all types and different cultures. Seafood of various kinds have titillated my palate, and made love across a bed of my taste buds, Oysters have seductively danced around the maypole of my tonsils, and crayfish have found haven in the depths of my appreciative stomach. Now with those words, I set the scene for my forays into the larders of the oceans deep.


Somewhere back in 1988, I found myself as a deckhand on board the shark fishing boat The Rhonda Lee trawling out of the port of Bicheno Tasmania, this boat was a long line fishing boat; long line fishing is where a fishing line is run out for a many kilometres with smaller branches running off at intervals with baited hooks, these lines can run out up to a hundred kilometres in length, the lines were left out over a few hours, or a night, and reeled in to unload the catch, apart from the tedious task of baiting the hooks in laying the line, the crews task was also unhooking the catch. The catch was mainly shark of varying sizes, some extraordinary sizes included, we would find monster squid that were also kept, these squid would attach their tentacles and suction caps to our plastic wet weather gear, and take a lot to remove, leaving an inky black liquid stain. It was on one occasion I had my first taste of fresh shark, it was a fish lover’s dream, freshly caught, filleted and tantalisingly toasted in a frypan in butter, it was a taste that awoke all the senses, and will be long remembered in my diary of Unforgettable Tastes. I also learnt on that trip, that all shark must be checked for Mercury content before being sold, Mercury or not, that fish went down a treat.


My first introduction to tasting Turtle, was a survival course during my Army days in north Queensland back in the mid to late 70s, it was an SAS course to introduce us to survival, when all other means had been exhausted. Apart from Snake, Goanna, Lizards and birds, the sea Turtle was added to our survival larder. I won’t describe the ways of catching or preparing Turtle, or even its taste, suffice to say it was my once only taste of Turtle, never to be repeated but apparently a delicacy among the Indigenous people. Now I need to explain that certain sea creatures are banned from exploitation here in Australia, apart from the Turtle, the Dugong is also banned; the only exemptions are given to the Indigenous people as it is deemed part of their cultural foods. I again came across Turtle in late 1980s when I was attached to a Signal Squadron at Bamaga, CapeYorke peninsula Queensland, right up at that pointy tip of Australia. I can relate this time now, as the limit of secrecy has expired, the task was a base for a Signal Squadron to eavesdrop on what was going on in the Indonesian waters at that time, the members worked in shifts from air-conditioned converted shipping containers. I found I had plenty of free time on my hands, so one afternoon I took one of the land rovers and started exploring the dense bush tracks outside the small Indigenous town ship of Bamaga, on one such bush track the tropical rain-forest closed in and created a canopy, a wild Boar and her young raced across the track in front, their tusks demonstrating a formidable weapon, a lonely beautiful Cassowary was disturbed and took flight, her talons as long and sharp as a knife. After some time I came across what I was looking for, the remains of many deep sea Turtles, after they had been killed and prepared for consumption, the only parts remaining were the skulls and the shells, about a dozen in all lay strewn among the tropical shrubbery. It was no surprise to me as I fully appreciated the rights of the Indigenous to hunt these creatures, as they had for centuries, for food. I held one of the skulls in my hand and found it to be as large as a mans, it was bleached from years of exposure to the elements, and cleaned by the tropical ants, the shells were of varying sizes, some a few feet long and some well over a metre in length, I had seen similar in craft shops on display with varnished shells, these shells however were blackened all over from fire. I did take one skull from the site and donated it to my son’s primary school as an education talking point. I did end up seeing one of these great creatures in the wild, on another expedition up Far North Queensland, between Mission Beach and Dunk island, we had been testing out one of our sea craft when we saw the Turtles great fin rising from the water and slapping the water as she moved, we were so close that we could see the massive size of this lovely creature, her head fully extended, her huge eyes alert and her shell a beautiful dark brown, it was magical to see her move with such speed, a speed she cannot reach on land. So ends my Turtle adventures.


I want to introduce you to Picorocos, one of the most strangest and weirdest sea creatures I have ever come across, so weird that on first sight, I nicknamed him The Alien, that is the first thought that came to my mind, it was one afternoon when we were shopping in Santiago and were visiting a fresh fish market, now as an aside, Chile is a long narrow country, not very wide and has the Great Andes on one side and the Ocean on the other, seafood plays a large part in the diet of the Chileans, and the seafood is always fresh being from the cold waters from the Antarctic, and moved along by the Humboldt current, back to my story, I was browsing the array of stalls when a large collection of Coral attracted my attention, the clumps of Coral were barnacle encrusted and had a pipe type of extension protruding out, I saw nothing that indicated it was seafood, and then The Alien emerged, from the pipe opening this creature came forth, two large tusks were extended and inside the tusks were two feelers or tentacles, I was amazed, it moved its head around and then withdrew back down the pipe, a slight touch on the Coral around the pipe and it emerged again, it was fascinating to watch, at one stage all the pipes opened at the same time, weird and wonderful. We purchased a number as it was intended that I must try the various culinary recipes of my host country, I won’t go into the preparation details, nor can I describe the taste of these Aliens, I can’t equate its taste to anything similar. So ends my First Encounter with Picorocos, The Alien from the depths of Chile’s deepest darkest waters.

I leave you with some photographs of my Alien. and a video clip that will allow you to see him up close.


Aussie Emu



Posted by on July 31, 2016 in Uncategorized


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53 responses to “Picorocos–Aliens from the Deep

  1. GP Cox

    October 26, 2016 at 11:04 am

    I’m off-topic (as usual) but thought you’d get a laugh out of this from John’s Story Book]

    • aussieian2011

      November 5, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Thanks gp, I needed a good laugh and that certainly did the trick, very deadpan Aussie humour.

  2. auntyuta

    October 22, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Reblogged this on auntyuta.

  3. auntyuta

    October 22, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Thank you Emu for all the “likes” you gave me today. 🙂
    What you write here is very impressive. Great pictures too. I think I’m going to reblog it!

  4. giselzitrone

    September 21, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Thany you lieber Gruß und Umarmung Gislinde

  5. giselzitrone

    September 18, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Wünsche einen schönen Sonntag liebe Grüße Gislinde

    • aussieian2011

      September 19, 2016 at 5:21 am

      Greetings Gislinde.
      Best wishes and kind regards.

  6. cat

    August 28, 2016 at 5:51 am

    Awesome sea food … but cum and try sum hedgehog sumtime, eh?, friend Ian … smiles … Love, cat.

    • The Emu

      September 1, 2016 at 5:03 am

      Cheers Cat and thanks for the invite, alas my plans are for Chile again late next year, I have never tried Hedgehog, don’t think I will either but at least they come with their own tooth picks.
      Best wishes for a great holiday Cat

      • cat

        September 27, 2016 at 6:56 am

        … okay then hedgehog it won’t be, friend Ian … so let’s have sum Calamari instead … and smash sum plates … opa !!! … smiles … Love, cat.

        • aussieian2011

          September 28, 2016 at 11:57 am

          Fresh Calamari sauteed in garlic butter,and a tartare sauce would be great, served with a side salad of fresh seaweed.
          Keep smiling

  7. K@countingpenniesandsheep

    August 24, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    I shall have to think on the turtle.. Alligator I am all in!!!!

    btw – I have nominated you for an award!

    Kind Regards and feeling grateful – K

  8. reocochran

    August 16, 2016 at 12:45 am

    I am so impressed with all your diverse tastings. I am glad you enjoyed some and understand (and sympathized) with your not liking turtles to eat. Some people talk about turtle soup, is this any better, I wonder? I wasn’t sure if you admitted you liked it or not? 🙂
    The strange creatures, “picorocos,” sure do sound unique, Emu.

    • The Emu

      August 16, 2016 at 1:12 am

      I just tasted Turtle on the survival course Robin, fortunately I never had to resort to eating Turtle in a life or death situation. I have heard of Turtle soup also but I think it might just be an Asian type of dish.
      Cheers and kind regards.

      • reocochran

        November 6, 2016 at 2:42 pm

        Just stopped by to make sure you hadn’t posted another unique story, Ian. Thanks so much for recent visits. Hugs, Robin to you, Ana and your families xo

  9. Michiko

    August 12, 2016 at 12:23 am

    Hi Ian!
    The coral of pipe it emerged again the various culinary in Australia, You had taste of there Aliens.
    You can’t equate it’s taste to anything similar.
    I always thinking of you!

    • aussieian2011

      August 12, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Hi Michiko, hope you are well and thank you for visiting.
      I think you must have tasted a lot of different seafood in your past, I enjoy all seafood but I can’t really describe the taste of the Picolocos.
      A song for you Michiko

    • auntyuta

      October 22, 2016 at 5:43 am

      I listened to this video. I love the sound of it.

  10. natswans

    August 10, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Great description Ian wow my favourite fish is Monkfish. These are fish I can only dream of . Thank you sharing .

    Have a wonderful week.

    • aussieian2011

      August 12, 2016 at 10:10 am

      Hi Sheila, thank you for visiting and reading my post, I have learnt over the years of many different names for seafood, but never heard of Monkfish, I shall now google and find out what a Monkfish is, sounds interesting with a name like that.
      Kind regards and best wishes.

      • natswans

        August 19, 2016 at 10:03 am

        I love Monkfish makes a change from Cod . We do have a special Fish market where you try different kinds of Fish. Also quite partial to a tasty Trout yum.

        • aussieian2011

          August 24, 2016 at 12:58 pm

          Hi Sheila, so sorry for the late delay in responding to your comment, hope you are doing well and in good health. I have never tasted Monkfish, rather a scary looking fish, I love Trout, I used to fish a lot for Trout in some of our great crystal clear mountains streams and Rivers, both Rainbow and Brown, I still occasionally get a chance to fish, Trout is a beautiful eating fish.
          Kind regards and best wishes to you Sheila.

  11. GP Cox

    August 6, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Thought I’d pass this on. Sent to me from John, who served under the colonel after Nam.

    • aussieian2011

      August 12, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Thanks gp, those awards are well and truly overdue, that was one hell of a battle in Nam, 18th Aug we commemorate that Battle, for that was the day of the battle, now here in Australia, the 18th is now called Vietnam Veterans day, amazing how time flies, was over 45 years ago I was there, seems like yesterday in my dreams sometimes.

      • GP Cox

        August 12, 2016 at 11:16 am

        I can imagine that very well. [it’s also my B-day – brother I’m old!!]

        • aussieian2011

          August 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

          Best wishes for a great Birthday mate

          • GP Cox

            August 12, 2016 at 5:39 pm

            Can’t quite figure out what I want to do for it, but I’m sure I’ll have a good one.

  12. prenin

    August 1, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Fascinating as always Ian! 🙂

    Never seen a creature like these, but I have to admit I wouldn’t eat one! 🙂

    God Bless and be well my friend!!! 🙂


    • aussieian2011

      August 2, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Greetings Prenin, first time that little bugger popped his head out of his shell I nearly shit myself.

      • prenin

        August 3, 2016 at 10:44 am

        LoL!!! 🙂

        Yes, a weird little beastie!!! 🙂

        God Bless!


  13. Peppermint

    August 1, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Ian I’ve tried all kinds of different foods. I guess I sounded kind of picky earlier in my comment. However, as a kid learned to eat many “odd” foods according to friends of mine.

    My Mom used to make kidney stew which was always delicious. She was from the Chesapeake Bay area so she fixed lots of seafood. My favorite is crab and scallops. Also I learned to like things like (now this one is weird) but my grandma started us on pigs-feet and cow’s tongue. Sardines were another favorite.

    I always enjoy your adventure stories because they are so exotic to me. You make it come to life in your writings about them.

    • aussieian2011

      August 2, 2016 at 8:34 am

      Your a girl after my own heart PM, Craps and Scallops with the Roe on are great and as for your pigs feet, love em, here we call them pigs trotters and when boiled are delicious with vinegar and pepper, for some reason I am the only one in the family that like them.

      • Peppermint

        August 3, 2016 at 12:22 am

        Ian, that’s how we eat pigs feet too, pickled. Delicious!

  14. wonkywizard

    August 1, 2016 at 1:42 am

    These large shells are very delicious: herbal soup with ginger, or fried with chilly and spices.

    • The Emu

      August 1, 2016 at 3:11 am

      Pleased you enjoyed my post, you are obviously aware of the Picolocos seafood, although you may have another name for it.

      • wonkywizard

        August 1, 2016 at 7:56 am

        Our barnacles or shells are depleting due to consumption.

        • aussieian2011

          August 2, 2016 at 8:36 am

          Sad but probably expected as I don’t think your country really has any sort of limits on seafoods due to your population, well that’s my thinking mate.

          • wonkywizard

            August 2, 2016 at 12:41 pm

            All u can catch

  15. GP Cox

    July 31, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Off topic and feel free to delete you wish –
    During ANZAC, we always hear a lot about Gallipoli and battling the Turks. I hope they also teach about this area I recently had the pleasure of reading. (found in the June 2016 issue of the Smithsonian magazine).

  16. GP Cox

    July 31, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    My father taught to try new dishes, it has proven to be one of my favorite lessons!! Terrific variety, Ian.

    • The Emu

      August 1, 2016 at 3:14 am

      Good piece of advice from your Father gp, I have tried many different foods over the years, one I never enjoyed was Dog in Vietnam, I grew attached to Rover and he would have loved those bones.

      • GP Cox

        August 1, 2016 at 10:03 am

        No dog for me either!!!

  17. Sue Dreamwalker

    July 31, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    What a variation of culinary delights you have tasted Ian.. Of course some because you had no other choices way back then.. The Picorocos now that is an alien for sure.. Did I hear it Hiss? too
    You are braver than I my friend.. 🙂
    Loved reading about your fishing days and finding the turtle shells and skulls too

    Wishing you a wonderful Day..
    Hugs Sue 😉

    • The Emu

      August 1, 2016 at 3:21 am

      Hi Sue, in actual fact you are right, it did actually make a hissing sound which I think was exhaling or throwing out water, very quiet yet still audible.
      Pleased you enjoyed my post, now to go through my recollections and find another post from the past.

  18. derrickjknight

    July 31, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Fascinating experiences well recounted, Ian

  19. Peppermint

    July 31, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Weird looking fish the Picorocos. Not the least bit appetizing.

    Your stories however are appetizing and so interesting.

    I’ve eaten shark and didn’t like it fresh caught off the shores of the Atlantic. I’ve never tried turtle and don’t want to.

    Now are those prices listed on the fish in dollars? Or what? I was astounded.

    All in all, one of your usual very interesting stories Ian.

    • The Emu

      August 1, 2016 at 3:17 am

      Hi PM, thanks for the comment, those prices on the fish are in Pesos, I could never understand the exchange rate, but if the US dollar was down I seemed to be rich, and vice versa.


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