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Bizarre Deep-Sea Fish Washes up on Oregon Beach

A bizarre deep-sea fish—a visitor from thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean—washed ashore near Cannon Beach, Oregon, shocking beach combers. It’s the first time one of these animals has washed up in the state, according to the Seaside Aquarium in Seaside, Oregon.

The alien-like creature is a Pacific football fish (Himantoliphus sagamius), a species of deep-sea anglerfish. The California Academy of Sciences says there are more than 300 species of anglerfish alive today in the ocean. Though not large, anglerfishes are truly bizarre looking. Notably, they have small eyes, an upturned mouth with needle-sharp teeth, and a “strange stalk” atop their heads.

That stalk is really a modified spine the anglerfishes use as a lure. The spine has a fleshy, bioluminescent bulb at the end that lights up, tricking prey into coming close enough for the anglerfish to snatch in its gaping mouth.

That’s not really the weird part, though. Just take a gander at anglerfishes’ private lives.

“Male and female anglerfish differ dramatically in size, with some females measuring up to ten times larger than their male counterparts,” California Academy of Sciences says on its website. “The males of some anglerfish species, including the football fish, have evolved into ‘sexual parasites.’ Using well-developed olfactory organs, they find and fuse themselves to females, eventually losing their eyes, internal organs, and everything else but the testes. The male becomes a permanent appendage that draws nutrition from its female host and serves as an easily accessible source of sperm.”

Seaside Aquarium estimates just 31 specimens have been recorded around the world, making this a rare sighting indeed.

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