Rare Deep Sea Fish Washes up on California Beach

A deep-sea fish usually found at depths of 3,000 feet below the surface was found washed up on a California beach on Friday.

A beachgoer stumbled across the rare find in the sands of Newport Beach, Orange County, during a morning stroll.

Ben Estes believed the fish was so unique and "weird-looking" that he reported the find to state park rangers and lifeguards with Crystal Cove State Park.

Photos of the jet black fish were posted to social media by Davey's Locker Sportfishing & Whale Watching, a boat tour agency that operates in the area.

"Not something we pulled onto the boat today but still an AMAZINGLY RARE FIND off of local Newport Beach at Crystal Cove State Park yesterday," the boating company said alongside a snap of the 18-inch anglerfish.

The fish was later identified as a deep sea Pacific footballfish. The species of anglerfish is commonly found at sea depths of more than 3,000 feet below the surface.

Anglerfish typically live in deep waters well below the earth's surface where light can no longer penetrate. To cope with the darkness, many creatures use bioluminescence, where they create their own light to attract prey or mates.

Deep-sea anglerfish have very large mouths and long, pointy teeth in order to facilitate capturing and swallowing prey. They also have a lure that they use to attract prey by making their own light in the darkness.

Photos of the intact washed-up deep-sea fish reveal its fleshy long dorsal fin that extends in the front of its mouth complete with a phosphorescent bulb on the end which can emit light to attract unsuspecting prey.

Though the fish itself is not rare and is one of more than 300 living species of anglerfish around the world, it is extremely rare to find one so intact along a beach in Southern California. It is even rarer to find this sort of fish so perfectly preserved and so far away from its usual habitat.

"I think we've all seen illustrations of anglerfish, but to see one in such good shape on the beach locally is insane!" Davey's Locker wrote in reply to stunned commenters.

The Pacific footballfish was collected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, though it remains unclear Saturday where it will end up.

It is also not known why the 18-inch fish washed ashore almost perfectly preserved.

Newsweek has contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for comment.

Anglerfish
File photo: A specimen of an Anglerfish, commonly found at sea depths of more than 3,000 feet below the surface. Reinhold Thiele/Getty Images