Science

Cannibalistic lancetfish washes ashore on a San Diego beach


A four-foot-long, cannibalistic lancetfish washed up on the shore along California and although dead, the fish was found intact with its long silver body, ridged black fins and piercing blue eyes.

The vicious creature was found on San Diego’s La Jolla Shores, but typically lives between the ocean’s surface and about 6,000 feet below.

It is unclear how the lancetfish came ashore, but there is a chunk missing from its neck that experts say are tears from seagulls chomping on the dead fish.

The carcass is now in the hands of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the team was able to study its stomach contents, showing the fish consumes large amounts of microplastics.

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A four-foot-long, cannibalistic lancetfish washed up on the shore along California and although dead, the fish was found intact with its long silver body, ridged black fins and piercing blue eyes

A four-foot-long, cannibalistic lancetfish washed up on the shore along California and although dead, the fish was found intact with its long silver body, ridged black fins and piercing blue eyes

Beachgoers spotted the long, skinny fish on the beach last Tuesday – Scripps just made the announcement of the find on Friday.

The lancetfish is not a particularly rare site, but this is the first to be preserved by the institution since 1996 and the only the 17th preserved from a San Diego beach since 1947.

Manager Ben Frable told CNN the fish was found at La Jolla Shores alive by beachgoers but did not survive too long after.

Frable suspects the fish wound up on the beach for several reason, but suspects it may have been swimming away from a predator and got caught in the current.

It is unclear how the lancetfish came ashore, but there is a chunk missing from its neck that expert say are tears from seagulls chomping on the dead fish

It is unclear how the lancetfish came ashore, but there is a chunk missing from its neck that expert say are tears from seagulls chomping on the dead fish

The carcass is now in the hands of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the team was able to study its stomach contents, showing the fish consumes large amounts of microplastics

The carcass is now in the hands of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the team was able to study its stomach contents, showing the fish consumes large amounts of microplastics

Along with feasting on its own kind, lancetfish are also hermaphrodites, animals with both male and female reproductive organs.

Along with feasting on its own kind, lancetfish are also hermaphrodites, animals with both male and female reproductive organs

Along with feasting on its own kind, lancetfish are also hermaphrodites, animals with both male and female reproductive organs

And this one in particular is on the smaller side – lancetfish can grow up to seven feet long. 

Along with the lancetfish, the Scripps Institution for Oceanography also tweeted about a Pacific footballfish that washed up on a beach in San Diego last month.

The deep-sea fish was discovered by Jay Beiler, who was walking along the shore at Black’s Beach in Torrey Pine, 10News reported.

Beiler spotted an odd-looking object  on the beach on Saturday, November 13 and initially thought it was a jellyfish.

After a closer look, he realized it was something much more rare and reported it to Scripps, which determined it to be a Pacific football fish.

The Pacific football fish, also known as Himantolophus sagamius, usually lives in waters that are 3,000 feet deep and is one of more than 200 species of an anglerfish.

Along with the lancetfish, the Scripps Institution for Oceanography also tweeted about a Pacific footballfish that washed up on a beach in San Diego last month

Along with the lancetfish, the Scripps Institution for Oceanography also tweeted about a Pacific footballfish that washed up on a beach in San Diego last month

The Pacific football fish, also known as Himantolophus sagamius, usually lives in waters that are 3,000 feet deep and is one of more than 200 species of an anglerfish

The Pacific football fish, also known as Himantolophus sagamius, usually lives in waters that are 3,000 feet deep and is one of more than 200 species of an anglerfish

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography says the last time a fish like this washed up in San Diego was 20 years ago in December 2001 at Dog Beach in Del Mar, and this is the third known to wash up in California.

Females can grow up to 24 inches, while males only grow about an inch long and their only purpose on the planet is to find a female and reproduce.

But when a male finds its mate, it latches onto the female with their teeth and becomes a ‘sexual parasite’ eventually coalescing with the female until nothing is left of their form but their testes for reproduction.

The male becomes entirely dependent on the female for nutrient supply, like a developing fetus in the womb of a mother.





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