‘Rarely seen’ footballfish washes up on Oregon beach

Beachcombers exploring near Oregon’s Cannon Beach recently made a shocking discovery, stumbling on a rarely seen fish that lives in the complete darkness of the deep sea.

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Officials with the Seaside Aquarium shared the find in a social media post Saturday, identifying it as a Pacific footballfish that dwells between 2,000 and 3,300 feet below the sea.

“Only 31 specimens have been recorded around the world,” according to the aquarium. “While a handful of football fish have been recorded in New Zealand, Japan, Russia, Hawaii, Ecuador, Chile, and California this is the first one reported on the Oregon Coast to our knowledge.”

The fish — which was featured in 2003′s “Finding Nemo” — is one of more than 300 species of anglerfish found worldwide, according to the California Academy of Sciences. The group has its own Pacific footballfish specimen, which was pulled up by deep-sea fishermen in 1985 in California’s Monterey Bay.

Officials with Seaside Aquarium noted that anglerfish like the Pacific footballfish use light in the form of a phosphorescent bulb on their foreheads to attract prey.

“Food at the depths that these guys peruse can be very sparse, so football fish are not picky eaters,” the aquarium said. “They eat anything that can fit into their mouths.”

Hunting is left to the females, as males are 10 times smaller than the females and “actually more like parasites,” according to the aquarium. They fuse themselves to female footballfish and “lose their eyes and internal organs, getting all their nutrients from their female partners.”

It is unknown how males of the species find females in the pitch dark, aquarium officials said.

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