Monster found on Oregon beach identified as newly discovered species

Monster found on Oregon beach identified as newly discovered species
Alien-like footballfish makes first appearance on Oregon coast
Scripps News / VideoElephant

A monster fish which looks more like a beached UFO than a worldly creature has washed up on a beach in the US state of Oregon.

The 7.3-foot (2.2-metre) creature appeared on the shores of the city of Gearhart last Monday (3 June), leaving onlookers both fascinated and bewildered.

“Initially, this large, strange-looking fish was creating quite a stir on social media and though it was stormy, folks were flocking to the beach to see this unusual fish,” Gearhart’s Seaside Aquarium wrote in a Facebook post.

News of the extraordinary find soon travelled across the world, reaching New Zealand where researcher Marianne Nyegaard swiftly identified the UBO (unidentified beach object).

Nyegaard contacted Seaside Aquarium to confirm that it was a hoodwinker sunfish – rarer than the more common ocean sunfish – adding that she believed it to be the “largest specimen ever sampled”.

And, to be fair, she would know, being the woman who discovered the species in the first place.

Photos of the beast reveal its immense size(Seaside Aquarium)

Back in 2017, Nyegaard discovered through genetic sampling and observation that the hoodwinker sunfish – also known as Mola tecta – was a different species to the ocean sunfish, a.k.a Mola mola.

"Tecta" means hidden or disguised in Latin, so the name is a nod to the new species that had been "hiding in plain sight," according to the aquarium.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, hoodwinker sunfish can grow up to 7.9 feet long and are smaller than other members of the sunfish family, which can exceed 10 feet.

They were initially thought to only inhabit the Southern Hemisphere, but have recently washed up on Pacific Ocean beaches in the US.

Divers in Monterey Bay photographed two hoodwinked sunfish in 2019. These were among the first confirmed sightings of the new species in Central California, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Another hoodwink sunfish was recently found in Alaska, again challenging the theory that it only lives in the southern hemisphere.

It could take weeks for the fish to finally be disposed of(Seaside Aquarium)

The Oregon fish has already been stuck in its Gearhart beach resting place for a week, but experts believe it could stay there for much longer.

This is because it’s difficult for scavengers to puncture its tough skin and therefore dispose of its remains.

Still, as unappealing as it may sound to go and visit a rotting carcass, the Seaside Aquarium remains enthused.

“It is a remarkable fish,” its representatives said. “And the aquarium encourages people to go see it for themselves.”

Sign up for our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

How to join the indy100's free WhatsApp channel

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings

The Conversation (0)