Deep-Sea Angler Fish Washes up on Oregon Beach

By: David Donovan | Published: May 21, 2024

Beachcombers were surprised to come across a rare deep-sea angler fish with an alien-looking appearance on Cannon Beach in Oregon on May 18th.

The fish is known as the Pacific football fish and was cataloged by the Seaside Aquarium in a Facebook post. The beach is located about an hour and a half drive from Portland.

Rare Species of Fish

This species of fish is considered to be rare, as per the aquarium, with just 31 species having been recorded across the globe.

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An anglerfish preserved in a tank, it is a pale color.

Wikipedia user mark6mauno, Creative Commons

The deep-sea angler was quite far from its natural habitat as the Seaside Aquarium states they “[Live] in complete darkness, at 2,000-3,300 feet (below the sea,) these fish are rarely seen”, according to their Facebook post.

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Ownership of the Pacific Football Fish

While the aquarium was not present for the discovery of the fish, they were alerted to its presence after a local beachcomber sent pictures to them.

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Fangtooth fish, it is black on a stainless steel surface.

Unsplash

According to the aquarium’s general manager, Keith Chandler, in an interview with USA TODAY: “The person who found it didn’t want to let us have it to preserve it”.

What Are Angler Fish?

If you’ve seen 2003’s “Finding Nemo” you may be familiar with the female angler fish seen in that movie but the species found on Cannon Beach looks markedly different.

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Clownfish nestled among coral reefs.

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Their ability to live in total darkness at such depths is still a mystery to researchers, states the aquarium’s post: “Little is known about (Pacific football fish’s) life history but what is known is unusually fascinating”.

Odd Features

This species discovered washed up on the beach is “Like other angler fish, they use light that shines from a phosphorescent bulb on their forehead to attract prey” according to the aquarium’s post.

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Striped anglerfish, it is orange and black in color, and the sun is shining on it.

U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This far down in the depths of the ocean, food is hard to come by for these fascinating creatures so they aren’t able to be picky about their diet.

Bizarre Differences in Sex

The males and females are starkly different in the species, with females actively hunting for food while the males can be 10 times smaller than the females.

The skeleton of an angler fish, it is set on a black background with a shadow underneath it.

Wikipedia Muséum de Toulouse, Creative Commons

The males act more like parasites compared to the males as they combine with their female partner losing their eyes and internal organs.

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Past Discoveries

This species of football fish has previously been recorded in a handful of countries and regions including New Zealand, Japan, Russia, Hawaii, Ecuador, Chile, and California.

The Seaside Aquarium along the promenade in Seaside, Oregon, people are walking near the building, and a yellow sign reads “AQUARIUM” outside the building.

Wikipedia user M.O. Stevens, Creative Commons

As far as the Seaside Aquarium is aware this is the first time this species of fish has been discovered on the Oregan Coast to their knowledge.

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Prior Analysis

As the beachcomber who found the creature was the one to discover it it is up to them what they do with the creature.

Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, San Diego, it is sunset, and the pier is reflected in the water.

Flickr user Dirk Hansen, Creative Commons

Just last December however another Pacific football fish was analyzed in San Diego, California after it was found washed ashore on a beach nearby.

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Research Insights

From the analysis performed in San Diego, researchers commented on the modified fin spine found in the fish which comes off of their dorsal fin as seen on USA TODAY.

A row of microscopes on a table in a laboratory

Unsplash user Ousa Chea

The bulb at the front of their head contains bacteria that produce bioluminescence allowing it to glow. The specimen in San Diego is one of three that the institute possesses.

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Fascinating Biology

Further examination of the Pacific football fish found last December noted that their skin was very rubbery with dissection proving difficult even with a sharp scalpel.

A researcher in a lab using a microscope, he has a hair net on, and there is a book next to him along with a pen, sheet, and laptop.

Unsplash user Lucas Vasques

In an x-ray, it was observed that the majority of the bones in their body were related to the head owing to the bulb protruding from the front of their skull. Their rubbery skin could have developed to help protect them from parasites.

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Strange Activity in Oregon

This discovery comes on the heels of the discovery of another array of alien-looking creatures that washed up on beaches from Oregon to California last month.

Aerial photograph of Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Waves are coming in and houses in the background past the beach along with hills behind them.

Wikipedia user DiscoverWithDima, Creative Commons

The organisms are known as Velella velella are known as colonies of hydrozoans who are also known as “by-the-wind-sailors” due to the sail-like fin they use to catch the wind and traverse the ocean.

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Natural Phenomenon

While beachgoers were surprised by the blue creatures in April it is a natural phenomenon that happens occasionally, also known as a “blue tide”.

Velellae on the beach in Corsica, there are a few blue creatures washed up on a beach.

Wikipedia user Velela, Creative Commons

The brilliant hue of these interesting creatures may be an aid to help them blend in to avoid predators or protect them from damaging UV rays.

The Pacific football fish is just another in a series of strange alien-like creatures that have washed up on the shores of Oregon in the last few months.

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