Sometimes the creatures of the deep find their way onto our shores, ready for some poor passerby to get an early morning jumpscare. The latest to wash up? A Pacific Football Fish, aka the freaky, teethy anglerfish of nightmares.
Quite aptly, the sharp-mouthed marine monster washed up on the shores of Crystal Cove State Park, California, on Friday 13. It features quite the set of teeth, and, as a female of the species, has a distinctive stalk on the top of its head. At the tip of this stalk is a small organ called the esca, which contains millions of bioluminescent bacteria; the anglerfish uses this light to entice prey.
It’s not the first Pacific Football Fish to wash up here either. Although it’s something of a rare occurrence to come across an intact one, the same species was found by a park visitor to the beach back in May 2021 and is now housed at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. The latest find has been collected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for research.
Whilst it might not be the most aesthetically pleasing of creatures, what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in what it could tell us about life in the depths. There are over 200 species of deep-sea anglerfish and with advances in underwater technology, scientists are finding out more about them than ever, from the notorious Finding Nemo villain, the black seadevil, to the first-ever footage of their bizarre sex lives.