A rare sighting of a deep-sea dwelling anglerfish washed up on the beach. (Courtesy of California State Parks)
LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.—State park and wildlife officials discovered a rare deep-sea creature washed up on the shoreline at El Moro Beach in the Crystal Cove State Park area earlier this month that belongs to the anglerfish family and is known as the Pacific Football fish.
Normally dwelling near the ocean floor at depths up to 8,200 feet, such fish have large mouths full of jagged sharp teeth with a protruding jaw line making it capable of eating prey its own size, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The department’s John Ugoretz said this is only the second time an anglerfish has been recorded washing up at the location, the last time being in 2021.
“There are only about 30 specimens of this species in museum collections around the world, so encountering one is certainly rare,” he told The Epoch Times.
As a deep-sea fish that rarely sees light, another identifying characteristic of the angler species is a small curved rod that protrudes above its head that is filled with a bacteria that creates light used to lure unsuspecting fish for a meal.
“We really don’t have an idea of why this happened there, but other deep-sea fish wash up around the state as well,” Mr. Ugoretz said.
According to Mr. Ugoretz, the fish has now been transferred to the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History where they will keep it along with the last one that washed up at Crystal Cove.
El Moro beach in Crystal Cove State Park on Oct. 23, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Crystal Cove State Park staff members were quick to share several pictures of the fish—with its malevolent anatomy—on Facebook.
“It’s a spooky looking fish for sure!” one commenter said.
Another poster said the fish resembled a horrific monster from a 1980s-era horror film.
Crystal Cove park officials also commented on how uncommon it is to see such a fish.
“To see an actual angler fish intact is very rare and it is unknown how or why these fish ended up onshore,” one staffer posted to Facebook. “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.”
Southern California fisherman Danny Dahlin and owner of the Redondo Beach area Dahlin Baits, agreed with state park staff and shared that seeing such a fish is rare.
“[Anglers] are deep water fish that most recreational fisherman will never see or catch,” Mr. Dahlin told The Epoch Times. “They live at depths that light does not even reach ... seeing one wash up on our beaches is cool but also puzzling.”
While Mr. Dahlin noted that his local fishing area contains a deep-water canyon known for attracting exotic fish, anglerfish will always present a mystery among the fishing community of Southern California, some of which nicknamed it “The Devil Fish” due to its ominous features.
“Not much is actually known about these elusive fish due to [their] living at such great depths,” he said. “This is probably the most ‘Halloween fish’ to ever exist.”