A HUGE, alien-looking fish found washed up on the shores of the “American Riviera” – thousands of miles from its Southern Hemisphere home – has baffled experts.
Researchers resorted to testing tissue samples and poring over close-up photos to confirm the species, that had never been seen before in the Northern Hemisphere.
Twitter/Thomas Turner The fish washed in with the tides at UC Santa Barbara, California
Twitter/Thomas Turner Experts had to take tissue samples and close-up photos to determine what species it was
As a result, the mystery of the identity of the weird seven-foot sea creature, found dead on a California Beach has now been solved.
It’s a hoodwinker sunfish, a species which is so rare, that it was first found just two years ago on a New Zealand beach, thousands of miles away from America.
A thrilled University of California in Santa Barbara, whose staff found the sunfish, said, “there are rare finds, and then there are out-of-nowhere, first-ever discoveries that send scientists’ hearts aflutter”.
About a week ago, the odd fish washed in with the tides at UC Santa Barbara’s Coal Oil Point Reserve.
Now identified as a hoodwinker sunfish (“Mola tecta”) – a rare species whose very existence was only first described in 2017, it “has never before been observed in the Northern Hemisphere”, the university adds.
The institution says that thanks to the quick work and collaboration of staff at the coastal reserve, and the university, the official determination of the sunfish was made by the world’s foremost expert on the species.
UC Santa Barbara enlisted the help of overseas experts to help them
Marianne Nyegaard, of Murdoch University in Australia, discovered and described the hoodwinker – the first addition to the Mola genus in 125 years.
Nyegaard named the hoodwinker for its elusive nature.
When she saw a post on Facebook about the discovery of the fish on the California coast, she immediately became curious.
The expert said: “I thought that the fish surely looked an awful lot like a hoodwinker, but frustratingly, none of the photos showed the clavus (a rounded rudder) clearly.
“And with a fish so far out of range, I was extremely reluctant to call it a hoodwinker without clear and unambiguous evidence of its identity.
“I just couldn’t be sure due to pixilation and kept thinking I was totally being hoodwinked by this stranded sunfish.”
She emailed ichthyologist Ralph Foster, of South Australia Museum, “and we discussed how this fish would have been a dead-set hoodwinker, had it been within range, in the temperate Southern Hemisphere.”
DON HITS BACK Trump insists Cohen ‘made the decision’ to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels BRIBERY PROBE Israeli PM hit with corruption charges as he claims it’s a ‘witch-hunt’ TRUMPING THE GUN Trump incorrectly claims 100% of land held by ISIS has been recaptured LatestQUAKE SHAKE Massive 7.1 tremor rocks Peru near notorious Ring of Fire zone SHIP HITS THE SPAN Shocking moment ‘drunk’ Russian captain steers ship into motorway bridge SUICIDE WARNING What is Momo and how can parents protect their children?
Nyegaard said that without photographic proof and evidence gleaned from the tissue sample, there was no way she could determine it was indeed a hoodwinker “with absolute certainty” given that the specimen was “so far away from home”.
She told CNN that all cases of the big fish had, until now, been found in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Chile.
Nyegaard added: “This is why it’s so intriguing why it has turned up in California. We know it has the temperate distribution around here and off the coast of Chile, but then how did it cross the equator and turn up by you guys?
“It’s intriguing, what made this fish cross the equator.”
Twitter/Thomas Turner The species has never been seen before in North America
Twitter/Thomas Turner UC Santa Barbara said ‘there are rare finds, and then there are out-of-nowhere discoveries that make scientists’ hearts aflutter
Twitter/Thomas Turner Expert Marianne Nyegaard said ‘I though the fish surely looked an awful lot like a hoodwinker’
At first they were hoodwinked…
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.