Rare deep-sea fish with ‘needle-sharp teeth’ washes ashore

A rare fish with menacing features washed up on a San Diego, Calif. shore in early December. The beachgoer who first uncovered it told Storyful that the discovery was the “stuff of nightmares.” 

Known as the Pacific footballfish, the sea creature typically dwells 2,000 to 3,000 feet beneath the surface where sunlight can’t reach. According to the California Academy of Sciences, the fish has a long antenna with a bioluminescent light protruding from the head, dozens of tiny “needle-sharp teeth, prickly skin and minuscule eyes.” The species uses its bioluminescence to lure in prey in the pitch-black environment of the deep sea. 

When Jay Beiler was at Torrey Pines State Beach, he was certain he had spotted a jellyfish. That was until he got a closer look at the animal and took a few photos. 

“At first, I thought it was a — like a jellyfish or something, and then I went and looked at it a little more carefully, and some other people were gathered around it too, and then I saw that it was this very unusual fish,” Beiler said, according to NBC 7 San Diego. “It’s the stuff of nightmares — mouth almost looked bloody! I’d say it was nearly a foot long.” 

The Pacific footballfish is a kind of anglerfish found in California, Japan, Hawaii, Ecuador, Chile and the Philippines. However, it has only actually been spotted in California a few times in recorded history. Beiler’s discovery is believed to be a mature female due to its size, which can be 60 times larger than the males, and its spiky teeth, which are also absent in males.

“I have never seen anything quite like this before,” Beiler told NBC 7 San Diego. “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.”

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