Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Barracuda-like Lancetfish Found on S. Oregon Coast

Published 04/02/22 at 5:25 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Barracuda-like Lancetfish Found on S. Oregon Coast

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; major specials now that winter is here
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
major specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Winter's enticing specials now
In Lincoln City:
Major winter specials now
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
major specials this season
In Newport:
Look for many specials
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials and tempting prices now
In Yachats, Florence
Big deals available; lodgings not listed anywhere else
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

(Gold Beach, Oregon) – A lovely spring day along the southern coast shores of Oregon, somewhere near Gold Beach. The sun is shining, it's a bit chilly and windy but the scenery is engaging. You're walking along the beach and all of sudden you spot what looks like a barracuda in the sands. You think to yourself, “wait, what?” (Photo courtesy "Paul")

That's something like what one Oregon Coast Beach Connection reader named Paul just went through. He was strolling along somewhere near Gold Beach Saturday morning when he spotted this unusual creature – which clearly had its head separated from its body, probably by predators making a meal out of it.

Taking a photo of it and dumping that into certain functions of Google later on, he was able to come up with a likely match. Paul found an older article from Oregon Coast Beach Connection showing just such a creature.

They often look like barracudas to many people, but they're they are in fact the Longnose Lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox), something that's a little rare along the Oregon coast or Washington coast. They do get found a few times a year up and down the Pacific Northwest shoreline, but it's not common by any means.

Courtesy Paul - the body of the creature at Gold Beach

Lancetfish are a bit more common in some areas offshore from the Oregon coast or Washington coast, although they live far down in the ocean, according to Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe. With its long, iridescent body, spiky parts and toothy grin, it looks a bit menacing – not unlike some of the stranger creatures lurking far below the surface.

“Little is known about the longnose lancetfish,” Boothe said. “We know they range from the southern Bering Sea to Chile and occupy surface waters down to 6,000 feet.”

Even with its relative infrequency of beach strandings, there are occasional bursts of them. There was an unusual run of lancetfish all over the Oregon coast in May of 2008, with as many as 20 spotted in areas like Cannon Beach, Seaside, Warrenton, Newport and Lincoln City that spring.

A whole lancet fish, courtesy Oregon Coast Aquarium

It's no surprise then that the lancetfish is known as quite a predator, with what Newport expert Terry Morse called “formidable teeth.” Morse encountered a live one wriggling around the beach once back in the late 2000s.

Other finds documented by Oregon Coast Beach Connection include on the south Washington coast in 2020 and one by Garibaldi on the north Oregon coast.

“Resembling a barracuda this is one fish you would not expect to run across along the Oregon coast,” Boothe said. “Their beautiful large eyes, sharp fang-like teeth, and serpent-like body distinguishes this fish from most others living in the Pacific Northwest.”

Boothe said they have poor digestive systems, and when necropsies are done on them they find stomachs full of whole fish.

““We also know that they are not picky eaters, they are known to eat over 90 different species of marine life, including each other, and unfortunately, are attracted to plastics,” Boothe said. “Their unique feeding habits, along with the varying range of depth that they occupy have scientists studying their stomach contents.”

You'll begin to see more of them in spring and summer along the Oregon coast and Washington coastline. Boothe said scientists aren't exactly sure why.

However, they tend to get caught in fishermen's nets as bycatch, then thrown back in the ocean. That's one reason you see them wash up. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

Oregon Coast Hotels in this area - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


Courtesy Seaside Aquarium

Lancetfish in Long Beach, Washington, courtesy Seaside Aquarium

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

Coastal Spotlight

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Hordes of Flying Carpenter Ants Along Oregon Coast
They're the breeders of the colonies, getting blown by east winds. Sciences, south coast
Beware of Bears on Oregon Coast Due to Late Berry Crops, Say Officials
Spotting a bear on the coast may become uncomfortably easy. Sciences
Oregon Coast Aquarium Adds Some Attractions, Means for Play
Nature Play Area, Outdoor Amphitheater and a new feature called the headwaters. Newport, kids
Curtis Salgado, Blues Artist Who Inspired Belushi, Returns to Central Oregon ...
One of the Pacific Northwest's more powerful musical treasures July 15
Cool Coves on Oregon Coast at Brookings, Seaside, Yachats, Coos Bay
There's more beneath their surface, and other layers to check out. South Coast, Travel tips, sciences, kids
Reflections on - and in - the Oregon Coast: photo essay of the surreal
Most striking is that glassy surface the beach can acquire, creating a magical mirror
Explore A Distinctive Oregon Coast Ecosystem with July 1 Netarts Spit Hike Ev...
Netarts Spit: Dunes, Birds, and More happens July 1. Oceanside events
On Edge of Central and South Oregon Coast, Florence's Killer Plants, Aerial V...
Trails, horses, wilderness lakes, campgrounds, some particularly strange creatures

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted