LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (KRON) – A visitor at Crystal Cove State Park in Southern California noticed something odd last week – a dead deep-sea anglerfish that looked like it came straight out of a nightmare.
“To see an actual angler fish is very rare, and it is unknown how or why the fish ended up on the shore,” the park’s official Facebook page said in a post about the sighting.
There are more than 200 species of anglerfish around the world, with this particular fish most likely identified as the Pacific Footballfish, officials went on to say in the post.
The female fish of this species have a long stalk on their heads with tips that light up and are used to lure prey in the dark waters as deep as 3,000 feet, the agency added. Females can reach up to 24 inches in length while males grow to be about an inch long.
National Geographic calls this particular fish “possibly the ugliest animal on the planet” as it inhabits “Earth’s most inhospitable habitat: the lonely lightless bottom of the sea.”
Anglerfish have transparent and very pointy teeth – like shards of glass, officials said. The mouth of such a fish is so large that this fish is capable of “sucking up and swallowing prey the size of their own body.”
Also fun fact about this fish and reproduction: “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. Wild!”
“Seeing this strange and fascinating fish is a testament to the diversity of marine life lurking below the water’s surface in California’s MPAs and as scientists continue to learn more about these deep sea creatures it’s important to reflect on how much is still to be learned from our wonderful ocean,” the agency said.
If you remember “Finding Nemo,” this is the same type of fish that stared silently at Nemo and Dory with its bioluminescent antenna over its head and sharp teeth spread wide ready to welcome the unsuspecting duo.
It’s not known at this time how exactly the fish landed where it did.