I bet very few, if any, of you reading this article have heard of the pacific football fish. And, honestly, until a few moments ago, neither had I. This strange fish washed up on a beach in California and absolutely shocked beachgoers when they saw the bulbous and vicious looking fish from the deepest depths of the world’s largest ocean.
The fish was found washed up on the beach at Crystal Cove State Park, the second time in the last couple years that such a fish has been found on beaches. Onlookers stared at the fish, amazed at what they were seeing as the creature simply looks completely unrelated to the fish that we often see in our lakes, rivers, and swimmable portions of the ocean.
The football fish is a species of angler fish, popularized by its role in Disney’s “Finding Nemo,” but very few people know about this specific fish. With huge protruding teeth and a fishing rod like extremity that lure prey into the reach of its enormous jaw, the football fish is a specialized killer at deep sea depths where sunlight does not penetrate.
The Crystal Cove State Park posted about the encounter on its Facebook page, commemorating the extremely rare find and sharing some fun facts about the crazy alien-like discovery. The park wrote, “To see an actual angler fish intact is very rare and it is unknown how or why these fish ended up onshore. Seeing this strange and fascinating fish is a testament to the curious diversity of marine life lurking below the water’s surface in California’s Marine Protected Areas.”
The park explained that this fish must have been a female, writing, “Only females possess a long stalk on the head with bioluminescent tips used as a lure to entice prey in pitch black water as deep as 3,000 feet!”
With each fact, the fish just keeps on getting stranger. The park added, “Their teeth, like pointed shards of glass, are transparent and their large mouth is capable of sucking up and swallowing prey the size of their own body. While females can reach lengths of 24 inches males only grow to be about an inch long and their sole purpose is to find a female and help her reproduce. Males latch onto the female with their teeth and become “sexual parasites,” eventually coalescing with the female until nothing is left of their form but their testes for reproduction.”
This is the kind of find that explorers long for when they set out on a weekend trek to a state park. This football fish is a find that so few human beings will ever make in person. Even seeing footage of these monsters is incredibly rare.
Finds like this seem to always add to the mystery of the ocean for people who are fascinated by what hides the depth, obscured by darkness.
The featured image is from an embedded Facebook post.
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