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Pacific footballfish washes up on Encinitas beach; Third deep-sea find in a month

12102021_pacific_footballfish_Credit_ Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.jpg
Posted at 9:49 AM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 17:19:38-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Another deep-sea creature has been discovered along San Diego County's coastline, the third instance of similar finds in the last month.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego said Tuesday that a Pacific footballfish, the same type of fish found along Black's Beach in November, washed ashore on Dec. 10 at Swami’s Beach in Encinitas.

This specimen is a female measuring nearly 13 inches long and weighing 5 pounds.

The Pacific footballfish, scientifically known as Himantolophus sagamius, usually lives in waters that are 3,000 feet deep, according to researchers.

The anglerfish has been found in California, Japan, Hawaii, Ecuador, Chile, and the Philippines, but the fish was discovered first on a beach in Greenland in 1833. This species is a close relative to Himantolophus groenlandicus, the Atlantic Footballfish.

The rare find marks one of only 31 known specimens of the deep-sea anglerfish found worldwide. But December's find marks the third time a deep-sea creature has washed up on a San Diego beach in the past month. November's footballfish is believed to have been taken back out to sea by the tide after it was photographed, and a 4-foot lancetfish was found at La Jolla Shores earlier this month.


"Experts don’t have any evidence to theorize why these fish are washing ashore in Southern California, but are interested in learning more about the specimens that have been collected or any new ones that might wash up," a Scripps Institution of Oceanography spokesperson wrote in a release.

The recently recovered footballfish was taken to Scripps, where Ben Frable, collection manager of marine vertebrates at the institution, will collect samples for genetic analysis. Other researchers are expected to examine the fish's stomach for information on the deep-sea food web

Anyone who discovers an unusual organism like these recently found deep-sea fish is asked not to take it home and to report it to lifeguards and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at or 858-534-3624.