A strange 7-foot fish with a face only a mother could love washed up in Oregon — and it's rarer than experts thought

An 'unusual' and 'strange-looking fish' washed up on the Oregon coast earlier this month, shocking people with its gargantuan size. At first, experts thought it was just a “common sunfish,” known by its scientific name Mola mola, but now they've learned it's something different – ​​and rare.

The Aquarium by the sea said in a Facebook post last week that after-photos of the enormous 7-foot-long fish “caused quite a stir on social media,” New Zealand researcher Mariann Nyegaard believed it was a species not known in Oregon, but that they have extensive experience with. The fish turned out to be an angelfish, which she “discovered and described” in research published in 2017.

Hoodwinkers were discovered “hiding in plain sight” in museum collections after 125 years of specimens being misidentified, according to the Australian Museum. The museum describes angelfish as “beautiful giants” and says the world's largest bony fish can grow to more than 4,400 pounds.

“Only a mother could love that face,” one person commented on the aquarium's announcement, while another person described the fish as “big and kind of scary and interesting at the same time.”

Hoodwinker sunfish were originally believed to live only in temperate waters in the Southern Hemisphere, the aquarium said. But that has changed quickly.

“That theory would be challenged, as few have recently washed up in California and one as far north as Alaska,” the Seaside Aquarium said. “This fish, hiding in plain sight, has most likely been seen/washed up in the Pacific Northwest before, but was mistaken for the more common Mola Mola.”

In 2019, a sunfish was found in the Coal Oil Point Reserve of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a specialist named it “the most remarkable organism I have seen rinse off on the beach.”

7-foot fish washed up on Southern California beach
The two-meter-long fish washed up at UC Santa Barbara's Coal Oil Point Reserve in Southern California in 2019. The fish's mouth looks unique, says Thomas Turner, an evolutionary biologist.

Thanks to Thomas Turner


The aquarium said it would keep the fish at Gearhart Beach and that at the time of placement its body would “probably remain for a few days, maybe weeks, because their tough skin makes it difficult for scavengers to puncture.” ”

“It's a remarkable fish and the aquarium encourages people to come see it for themselves,” she added.

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