Rare sea creature washes ashore in Santa Barbara

hoodwinker sunfish thomas turner.jpg
Posted at 2:19 PM, Mar 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 18:37:06-05

GOLETA, Calif. (KGTV) - A rare sea creature that’s not supposed to live in the Northern Hemisphere surprised scientists by washing ashore in Goleta last week.

The Mola tecta, more commonly known as the hoodwinker sunfish, is a rare species first identified in 2017, according to experts at University of California, Santa Barbara.

UCSB reported the fish at Sands Beach in the university's Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve, the Associated Press reported.

An intern alerted a reserve staffer who initially thought it was a type of local sunfish.

“This is certainly the most remarkable organism I have seen wash up on the beach in my four years at the reserve,” said Jessica Nielsen, a conservation specialist at Coal Oil Point on the UCSB website. “It really was exciting to collect the photos and samples knowing that it could potentially be such an extraordinary sighting.”

Scientists have not yet determine how the fish died.