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Slightly Rare, Freaky Fish Shows Up on Oregon Coast

Published 04/27/2012 - Published 2020

Slightly Rare, Freaky Fish Shows Up on Oregon Coast

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(Pacific City, Oregon) – Just a few miles down the road from the burgeoning town of Pacific City sits the tiny, quaint village of Neskowin. Nothing ever happens here, but this Sunday it did. (Photo above: a lancetfish found on the Washington Coast)

All photos below courtesy John Forsythe, Proposal Rock Inn.

John Forsythe, owner of the Proposal Rock Inn in Neskowin, was walking on the beach this weekend and found what he believed to be a barracuda. He theorized maybe it caught a run of warm water and wound up freezing when that dissipated, as happens sometimes with unusual fish finds on the Oregon coast.

“Found this a mile and a half north of Proposal Rock on Sunday,” Forsythe said.

It turns out what he found usually lives as far down as 6,000 feet below the surface of the sea. Staff from the Seaside Aquarium looked at Forsythe's photos and said it's not a barracuda but a funky fish called a Longnose Lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox).

“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're a bit of a rare find on the beaches, although the aquarium said it gets as many as two or three sightings of them on the north Oregon coast every year. It's fairly unusual to see them wash up, but they are quite common in the ocean off the Oregon coast.

Newport-area naturalist Terry Morse said you can tell the lancetfish is a predator by what he called its “formidable teeth.” It lives from the Aleutian islands south to Chile and hunts offshore waters from near the surface to about 6000 feet deep - or 1800 meters.

There was an unusual run of them 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.

Morse photographed one rather unusual incident then where the lancetfish was still alive and a passerby was trying to revive the thing by dragging it through the tide line, concentrating on getting its gills in the water.

The lancetfish can have skin that appears iridescent, dagger-like teeth, along with striking blue eyes. Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour

Below: Proposal Rock, at Neskowin - along with its mysterious "ghost forest,"


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