Beachgoers were scared to death when this rare sea creature washed ashore

National Marine Sanctuaries, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The depths of the ocean remain one of the last unexplored frontiers on Earth.

Many mysteries of the seas are still unanswered. 

And beachgoers were scared to death when this rare sea creature washed ashore.

Strange fish turns up on an Oregon beach

An unusual fish that washed ashore on a beach in Gearhart, Oregon is gaining attention all over the world. 

At first, no one was quite sure what the large and flat fish was.

It measured 7.3 feet in length.

The Seaside Aquarium said that the fish was a hoodwinker sunfish, which is a rare species that was only discovered within the last decade.

“Initially, this large, strange looking fish was creating quite a stir on social media and, though it was stormy, folks were flocking to the beach to see this unusual fish,” the aquarium wrote. “It wasn’t long before news of this fish reached Marianne Nyegaard, a researcher based in New Zealand.”

Nyegaard identified the washed-up fish as a hoodwinker sunfish, mola tecta, not the more common ocean sunfish, mola mola. 

Tecta in Latin means hidden or disguised.

The New Zealand researcher said that this species of sunfish was hidden in plain sight. 

“Marianne Nyegaard reached out to the Seaside Aquarium to see if they would be willing to take samples for genetics, Staff quickly responded, took more photographs, measurements, and tissue samples,” the aquarium explained. “Through photographs, Marianne confirmed that it was a hoodwinker and that this may be the largest specimen ever sampled.”

The New Zealand researcher discovered this species of sunfish in 2017.

Hoodwinker sunfish’s habitat was initially thought to be the Southern Hemisphere.

“Originally thought to only occupy the temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere, that theory would be challenged as a few have recently washed ashore in California and one as far north as Alaska,” officials wrote. “This fish, hiding in plain sight, has most likely been seen/washed ashore in the Pacific Northwest before but was mistaken for the more common, Mola mola.”

Its body is still on the beach where it was found.

“This fish is still on Gearhart Beach and will probably remain for a few more days, maybe weeks as their tough skin makes it hard for scavengers to puncture,” Seaside Aquarium wrote. “It is a remarkable fish and the aquarium encourages people to go see it for themselves.”

Locals were astounded by the hoodwinker sunfish

A person standing next to the unusual fish provided a scale to its size.

The hoodwinker sunfish can weigh up to 4,500 pounds when it’s fully grown.

Oregon residents marveled at the strange fish that was found on their beach.

“Reason 199,999,789 that I will not swim in the ocean,” a social media user wrote. “Could you even imagine that thing coming up by you?! It’s a no for me.”

Despite their massive size, sunfish are harmless to humans.

“So sorry it died being it was a rare species!!” another user stated.

The ocean still has many mysteries as new species are still being discovered.

Patriot Political will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.