Hurricane Harvey brought out a fanged, scary looking mystery creature from the depths of the ocean and stranded it on a Texas beach — prompting a mad rush to identify the oceanic oddity.
Preeti Desai discovered the blobby, brownish creature in the sand in Texas City and posted several pictures asking “biology twitter” to help in identifying the strange animal.
“It was completely unexpected, it’s not something that you’d typically see on a beach,” Desai told the BBC. “I thought it could be something from the deep sea that might have washed on to shore.”
She added, “My main reaction was curiosity, to figure out what the heck it was.”
Her request reached Dr. Kenneth Tighe, who believes the creature could be a fangtooth snake-eel or garden or conger eel.
— Preeti Desai? (@preetalina) September 6, 2017
Tighe said, “all three of the species occur off Texas and have large fang-like teeth.”
Fangtooth snake-eels, also known as toothy eels, can grow up to 33 inches long and eat bony fish and crustaceans. They mostly reside in coastal waters between 108-300 meters deep in the western Atlantic.
It is thought that Hurricane Harvey, which brought strong winds and flooding to Texas, could explain why the creature was washed up.
The fangtooth snake-eel, also known as a “tusky” eel, is usually found in waters between 30 and 90 metres deep in the western Atlantic ocean.
Ms Desai, who was at the beach assessing the damage from the hurricane, told the BBC: “It was completely unexpected, it’s not something that you’d typically see on a beach. I thought it could be something from the deep sea that might have washed on to shore.”
“My main reaction was curiosity, to figure out what the heck it was,” she added.
Ms Desai said she posted the images on Twitter because she knows a lot of scientists use it, and a friend soon responded and contacted Dr Tighe.
“I follow a lot of scientists and researchers. There’s such a great community of these folks that are very helpful, especially when it comes to answering questions about the world or identifying animals and plants,” she said.
She said she left the eel on the beach “to let nature take its course”.
Remind me to never go swimming in the ocean!
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