New 7-Feet Long Species of Fish Discovered at Oregon Beach

On June 3, a sunfish measuring 7.3 feet was discovered on Gearhart Beach, north of Seaside, Oregon, as reported by the Seaside Aquarium.

Despite storms, people were still rushing to the shore to view the peculiar fish. When word got to New Zealand about the enormous fish, marine biologist Marianne Nyegaard wasted no time in determining that it was not the same species as the ocean sunfish or Mola mola.

The Seaside Aquarium announced the discovery of a new species that had been hiding in plain sight thanks to DNA profiling and, eventually, observation.

The bizarre fish, looking like a bloated skipping stone with lifeless eyes and a lipless mouth, measures just over 7 feet in length, and the aquarium thinks it may be one of the biggest examples ever recorded. According to Keith Chandler, general manager of the Seaside Aquarium, thousands of people have flocked to see the body since it washed ashore a week ago, regardless of how unsettling it looks.

Britannica reports that the hoodwinker sunfish, or Mola tecta, is the smallest member of the sunfish family, with a maximum length of 7.9 feet, whereas the others may reach lengths of over 10 feet. Among the fish’s distinguishing characteristics are its tiny mouth and beak-like teeth, its firm skin, and its bullet-like form.

It was previously thought that hoodwinker sunfish exclusively lived in the Southern Hemisphere. However, large numbers of these fish have been seen washing up on beaches in the Pacific Ocean in the United States. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, two hoodwinked sunfish were photographed by divers in Monterey Bay in 2019. These observations were among the first confirmed sightings of the new species in Central California.

In response to the most recent report in Oregon, Nyegaard reached out to Seaside Aquarium to obtain a DNA sample. The aquarium supplied additional images, dimensions, and tissue samples.

According to Chandler, the strong skin of the dead fish allowed it to survive the weather and scavengers. But once Nyegaard slices into it, he thinks birds like seagulls and bald eagles will start eating it. Nonetheless, he expressed his satisfaction that it has brought people outdoors and, for some fortunate ones, allowed them to witness a live specimen being gutted by a researcher as part of an interactive educational session.