On May 7 this deep-sea fish washed up on shore in Crystal Cove State Park’s Marine Protected Area (MPA). Crystal Cove State Park wrote in a Facebook post they believed it is most likely a Pacific Football Fish, one of the 200 species of angler fish that exist worldwide. Angler fish live in pitch-black waters up to 3,000 feet below the surface. The distinguishing feature many will recognize is the long stalk on the head with bioluminescent tips. Only females have the peculiar appendage and use it as a lure to entice prey. Their teeth, like pointed shards of glass, are transparent, and their largemouth is capable of sucking up and swallowing prey the size of their own body.
“To see an actual angler fish intact is very rare and it is unknown how or why the fish ended up on the shore,” wrote Crystal Cove State Park in the Facebook post. “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.”
Ben Estes photo shared by Crystal Cove State Park