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Rare Fish Encounters and Wacky Sea Lion: Washington, Oregon Coast

Published 03/10/2020 at 4:38 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rare Fish Encounters and Wacky Sea Lion: Washington, Oregon Coast

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(Newport, Oregon) – Some weird and wacky wildlife encounters in recent days along the Oregon coast and the Washington coast, with a strange creature showing up in Garibaldi and Long Beach, Washington, and a goofy encounter with a sea lion in Newport. (Photo above courtesy Bureau of Land Management).

According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rangers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, sea lions are not very common to that headland, but even more so is one wandering up to tourist facilities. But that’s exactly what happened Sunday as a young male not only made landfall on the promontory but he wiggled his way to signage at a viewing platform fairly high up the attraction.

This concerned workers at the headland because there were fairly steep dropoffs next to where he was hanging out, but more urgent was the fact humans ignored the signs rangers put out telling people to stay away. Normally, authorities simply set up signs and leave the creatures alone. They always wander back to the deep on their own.

That didn’t happen, however. With some visitors breaking the rules and approaching the wayward beastie, BLM staffer Meredith Matherly and others – along with a member of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network – helped edge him back to the beach at Quarry Cove. Matherly said there was the real possibility the sea lion could bite someone.

Sea lion rescue at Yaquina Head

A young sea lion ventured to a pubic viewing platform Sunday at Yaquina Head before being gently ushered back towards the ocean. >Posted by BLM Oregon & Washington on Monday, March 9, 2020

From there, Matherly videoed the little guy slowly working his way back into the tides.

Looking back to last month, another rarity washed up on a beach on the southern Washington coast: a lancetfish made its way onto Long Beach Peninsula back on February 24, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) marine expert Sheanna Steingass. Yet another was found in recent days in Garibaldi on the north Oregon coast, according to one report on Instagram.

Lancetfish on Washington coast

Steingass passed on the tip and photo she received from Mark Sass, who found the creature. In both cases in Washington and Oregon the creature was dead. (Photo above courtesy Mark Sass).

“Looks like this lancetfish was likely caught in a trawl net and discarded,” Steingass said. “Mark said it was about 4 to 5 feet long - quite the find.”

Seaside Aquarium encounters these periodically on the beaches, on average two or three times a year. They’ve talked to Oregon Coast Beach Connection about these finds in the past.

Often, they’re mistaken for barracudas, which is understandable since they resemble that in many ways. They usually live down some 6,000 feet below the surface, at a minimum of well over 300 feet below. While they are abundant in most oceans, they’re so far down they rarely pop up on the Oregon coast or Washington coast.

“Though they typically inhabit deeper waters they are also occasionally found at the surface,” said Tiffany Boothe, of the Seaside Aquarium. “They can reach up to six feet in length maybe a bit bigger. We have a taxidermied specimen on display here.”

They fairly regularly get caught as bycatch in fishermens’ nets.

Still, in spite of their deep-depth existence, there’s at least one account of them being found alive. Newport marine expert actually photographed one still breathing several years ago – at least it did so for a little while. Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour




Below: a lancetfish found in Pacific City years ago by Seattle's Jeff Thirlwall

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