Rare Pacific footballfish washes up on San Diego beach

A visitor to a San Diego beach snapped photos when he came across something unusual — a deep sea-dwelling Pacific footballfish washed up on the sand.

Jay Beiler said he thought initially that the creature he spotted at Black’s Beach, in the Torrey Pines area of San Diego, was a jellyfish.

“Then I went and looked at it a little more carefully, and some other people were gathered around it, too, and then I saw that it was this very unusual fish,” Beiler told KNSD-TV.

Beiler estimated the creature was about a foot long.

“I have never seen anything quite like this before,” Beiler said. “You know, I go to the beach fairly often, so I’m familiar with the territory, but I’ve never seen an organism that looked quite as fearsome as this.”

Ben Frable, collection manager for the marine vertebrate collection at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said the creature was a Pacific footballfish, a deep-sea dwelling species of anglerfish.

“This is one of the larger species of anglerfish, and it’s only been seen a few times here in California, but it’s found throughout the Pacific Ocean,” Frable said.

He said the fish is only the second member of its species to be found on a San Diego beach after another was discovered in 2001.

Frable said researchers attempted to find the fish on Black’s Beach, but it most likely was carried back out to sea by the tides before they could locate it.

“Because they’re so uncommonly found, every single one of those provides valuable information, like data for studying the science of fishes, but also for learning more about our environment in California,” Frable told KFMB-TV.