A rare footballfish washed ashore in Newport Beach, California over the weekend, only to be discovered by a surprised local beachgoer.
Ben Estes was shocked to discover the “rare find” at Crystal Cove State Park on Saturday before he alerted state park rangers and lifeguards to the “weird-looking fish”.
Davey’s Locker Sportfishing and Whale Watching said in a post on Facebook that the critter has been identified as a deep-sea Pacific Footballfish.
Photographs of the fish show the “prehistoric” and “nightmarish” looking specimen, which is jet black in colour with a round body and intimidating jaws.
According to the local boat touring company, the unique fish is a species of anglerfish that normally reside in depths of more than 3,000 ft below the surface.
The species also has a “fleshy long dorsal fin, called an illicium” which hangs down over its mouth and a “phosphorescent bulb” to attract unwitting prey into its grasp in dark depths.
Some social media users drew comparisons between the fish and an animated anglerfish foe seen in the film Finding Nemo.
“It’s one of more than 300 living species of anglerfish from around the world,” they said in a statement.
They explained that while the fish itself is not particularly rare, it is “extremely” rare to find such a species “intact along a beach in southern CA.”
The football-shaped fiend is currently being held by the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife but will likely end up on display in a museum or other such institution, the post said.
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