An unusual fish with teeth as sharp as glass and a body shaped like a football washed ashore on a California beach last week.
The black colored creature with its gaping mouth laid on the sand on the shore of Crystal Cove State Park’s Marine Protected Area in Laguna Beach last Friday. The park shared images of the fish on social media and identified it as being most likely the Pacific Football Fish.
“To see an actual angler fish intact is very rare and it is unknown how or why the fish ended up on the shore,” reads the Facebook post.
The Pacific Football Fish is one of more than 200 species of anglerfish worldwide, according to California State Parks, and is normally found in the dark depths of the ocean. The creature’s teeth are sharp and pointy like shards of glass and their “large mouth is capable of sucking up and swallowing prey the size of their own body.”
Due to the creature’s size and the protruding stalk on the top of the head, California State Parks said this is a female.
“Only females possess a long stalk on the head with bioluminescent tips used as a lure to entice prey in the darkness of waters as deep as 3,000 feet!,” according to the Crystal Cove State Park post.
They added that females can grow to lengths of 24 inches while males only grow to be about an inch long. The sole purpose of the male fish is to help a female reproduce, reads the post.
“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,” reads the post.
The body of the fish is being held by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, according to CNN affiliate KFSN. It is expected to be studied for research and educational purposes.
“Seeing this strange and fascinating fish is a testament to the diversity of marine life lurking below the water’s surface …,” reads the Crystal Cove State Park post. “.. 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.”