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Alien-like footballfish makes first appearance on Oregon coast

Footballfish generally live in complete darkness.
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Posted at 8:45 AM, May 22, 2024

A deep-sea anglerfish known as a Pacific footballfish made its first appearance on an Oregon shore after washing up on Cannon Beach, the Seaside Aquarium said in a May 18 Facebook post.

Footballfish, which have the scientific name Himantolophus sagamius, generally live in complete darkness about 2,000 feet to 3,300 feet below the ocean surface, the aquarium said. These fish have rarely been seen as there have only been 31 recorded findings of the species.

The Seaside Aquarium said the fish has been spotted in New Zealand, Japan, Russia, Hawaii, Ecuador, Chile and California.

"Like other angler fish, they use light that shines from a phosphorescent bulb on their forehead to attract prey," Seaside Aquarium said in its Facebook post. "Food at the depths that these guys peruse can be very sparse, so football fish are not picky eaters. They eat anything that can fit into their mouths."

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According to the California Academy of Sciences, male footballfish "find and fuse themselves to females, eventually losing their eyes, internal organs, and everything else but the testes. The male becomes a permanent appendage that draws nutrition from its female host and serves as an easily accessible source of sperm."

The California Academy of Sciences says footballfish are one of 300 known species of anglerfish.