At first, beachgoer Jay Beiler didn’t know what to make of the bizarre creature he found washed up on Black’s Beach near San Diego, California.
“You know, I go to the beach fairly often, so I’m familiar with the territory, but I’ve never seen an organism that looked quite as fearsome as this,” he told KNSD about his discovery on Saturday, Nov. 13. “It’s the stuff of nightmares.”
Beiler snapped some photos of the frightening, foot-long fish, which experts have identified as a Pacific footballfish, a type of deep-sea anglerfish rarely seen outside the ocean depths, KFMB reported.
The scary-looking anglerfish, which dangles its own bioluminescent light, may also be familiar to “Finding Nemo” fans as one of the strange creatures encountered in the film.
“This is one of the larger species of anglerfish, and it’s only been seen a few times here in California, but it’s found throughout the Pacific Ocean,” Ben Frable, collection manager of the marine vertebrate collection at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told KNSD.
“They’re cruising around the deep ocean, living in environments that are pretty much pitch black,” Frable told KFMB. The fish use the bioluminescent light as a lure to find prey.
A Pacific footballfish washed up at Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County, California, in May, park officials reported on Facebook.
“Their teeth, like pointed shards of glass, are transparent and their large mouth is capable of sucking up and swallowing prey the size of their own body,” the Facebook post said.
The fish live at depths of up to 3,000 feet, park officials said.