An unlikely star went viral this week after images surfaced online of a strange-looking footballfish in California. Photographed by Ben Estes, the deep sea dweller washed up on a beach in Crystal Cove State Park. The surprising find didn’t bend anyone’s rod, nor was it caught by kayak, but anglerfish are sometimes known as “the fish that fishes.” We’ll also venture to guess that it didn’t grace anyone’s dinner plate, although fresh anglerfish is used in Japanese and Korean cuisine.
Shedding a Little Light on Footballfish
According to the Weather Network, Pacific footballfish are a species of anglerfish that live “more than 600 meters below the surface in pitch black water.” While common in the deep sea off California, they are very rarely seen in the shallows. Fans of Finding Nemo will recognize the long stalk on the female’s head, featuring “multiple bioluminescent tips…used to attract prey in the darkness.” If that’s not strange enough, “footballfish are capable of sucking up prey the size of their own bodies.”
The Underwater World is Full of Surprises
Anglerfish may not win any prizes for beauty, but they do bring to mind some of the creepier and less common underwater creatures that sometimes show up on our hooks. From Port Jackson sharks in southern Australia to spotted ratfish in the Pacific Northwest, the oceans are full of odd-looking characters.
The same is true for freshwater too, like the lyre-tail pleco of Brazil and Guyana, and the prehistoric-looking American paddlefish of the Mississippi Basin. Even flounder are pretty weird when you think about it. And that’s not getting into eels, amphibians and—of course—all sorts of inanimate objects.
So, what’s the most unusual catch you’ve ever reeled in?