Terrifying Deep-Sea Fish Are Washing Up on the Oregon Coast

Scientists are unsure why this is happening

Imagine this, but all over a beach.
Rjones99 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Strange things have been washing up on the beaches of Oregon in recent years, including buried treasure and hand grenades. These things tend to come in threes, and in this case the third thing to show up along the shoreline happens to be a species of fish that the NOAA once described as having “gaping fanged jaws, enormous eyes, a sail-like fin, and long, slithery body.” Not the stuff of nightmares at all, then! Did we mention that they can grow to be seven feet long?

The very presence of these lancetfish is unsettling enough, but what’s every bit as uncanny is what experts told the Associated Press, who have been reporting on the phenomenon: they’re not entirely sure why this is happening.

What do we know? As the AP reports, the lancetfish have been showing up along around 200 miles of coastline with little indication of why they left their habitat, which is far below the surface of the ocean. University of California San Diego scientist Ben Frable did offer one reassuring possibility: that this isn’t a new phenomenon, but people are simply more aware of incidents like this because of social media.

To be fair, that does make sense with general societal trends. If you saw a weird fish 20 years ago, you might have a good story to tell about the weird fish you saw; now, you can post it on any number of social media platforms.

A Look At the Weird Pancake-Like Fish That Keeps Surprising Beachgoers
The mola, or an ocean sunfish, can get up to 5,000 pounds.

As it turns out, social media might also provide the solution to figuring out why these lancetfish keep washing ashore in Oregon. Oregon State Parks recently took to Facebook to request that people encountering lancetfish in Oregon post photos online “with the tags Oregon State Parks NOAA Fisheries West Coast.” These fish might look prehistoric, but they’re being monitored in a very 21st century way.

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