With its wide open mouth filled with black teeth and its appendage ending in a series of tentacles, this sea creature seemed straight out of a horror movie. In fact, it is a very common fish. It is just extremely rare to find one in such good condition.
This football fish (Himantolophidae), one of some 300 species of monkfish isolated across the world, was spotted a few days ago on a beach in Crystal Cove National Park, California, by a man named Ben Estes. “I knew it was an unusual find“, Declared the person concerned Guardian. And this beach regular (who is also an experienced fisherman) assures him: he had never seen such a fish before.
A dead specimen, but in excellent condition
“I don’t know if he really understood the implications of what he discovered“, a declared Jessica ROAME, of Watching Locker Sportfishing & Whale Davey. The organization was among the first to post pictures of the fish on social media. “While walking on a beach, it can happen to come across dead creatures here and there“, She added. “The most surprising thing here is that this specimen was still incredibly well preserved.“.
For the time being, it is not yet clear how this fish, used to living in the abyss of the Pacific at more than 900 meters deep got this far.
In the meantime, researchers are just happy to be able to take another look at this species. California State Parks officials have approached the LA County Museum of Natural History in hopes that it can be transferred to their collection. The museum already offers three, but none are in such good condition.
FIND RARE! The deep-sea anglerfish washed up in Newport Beach on Friday morning! On Crystal Cove Beach @CrystalCoveSP Staff were alerted by visitor to Ben Eslef Beach and were able to recover this intact specimen. pic.twitter.com/vERGy5Zujt
– Davey’s Locker (@ DaveysLocker400) May 9, 2021
A coitus at a depth of 800 m
The first time that a fish of this genus was identified was in 1933, in Greenland, according to a fascinating article published in 2019 in the New York Times. Since then, the knowledge collected on these creatures comes to us from the few specimens found dead on the shores or drawn in the nets.
In recent years, researchers and other explorers have also been able to observe them directly in their natural environment. During an underwater expedition operated in 2018, Kirsten and Joachim Jakobsen even surprised two of these fish (Caulophryne jordani) in full coitus off the island of São Jorge, in the west of Portugal, more than 800 meters deep. It was a first.
Abandoning their plan to surface, the filmmakers then followed the couple for twenty-five minutes, capturing their movements through the window of their submersible: