Extremely Weird ‘Footballfish’ Washes Ashore in California

The ocean’s constantly burping up all kinds of weird stuff along its beaches. Sometimes it’s glorious stuff, like sea adventure LEGO, and sometimes it’s downright disgusting stuff, like these penis fish. Recently, in Orange County, California, the ocean ejected the corpse of a footballfish. Which falls somewhere between the LEGO and the penis fish on the “Would be cool to stumble upon it on the beach” spectrum.

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WIS News reported on the discovery of the footballfish, which officials say is especially rare. A visitor at Orange County’s Crystal Cove stumbled upon the weird fish and snapped the picture above.

The Crystal Cove State Park collected the footballfish off the beach, although they’re unsure why or how it washed ashore. “To see an actual angler fish intact is very rare,” park officials say in their Instagram post. Indeed, the globose fish live 2,000 to 3,000 feet below the sea’s surface; so deep that sunlight doesn’t penetrate their environment at all.

A dead, large-jawed female anglerfish, shaped like a football.

Crystal Cove State Park

Park officials note that the females of this family grow up to 24 inches in length, and have long stalks on their heads. The stalks have bioluminescent tips, and the fish use them as lures to entice prey. The females also have pointed, transparent teeth, and can swallow prey the size of their own bodies.

A dead, large-jawed female anglerfish, shaped like a football, facing forward.

Crystal Cove State Park

The males of the family, on the other hand, are tiny. The family of fish exhibit extreme sexual dimorphism—or extreme physiological differences between the two sexes—and the males basically only serve to deliver testes to the females so that they may reproduce. It’s still tough goings for the female footballfish, however, as sperm whales like to hunt them. Plus, they also hunt each other. Which really makes us wonder why they don’t appear on beaches more often. And again, why this fully intact one appeared on this particular beach. Regardless, we’re just happy it wasn’t more penis fish this time.

Feature image: Crystal Cove State Park

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