Something doesn’t seem quite right here. Several cannibalistic “twilight zone” animals have recently washed up on Oregon’s beaches, leaving scientists perplexed. Several lancetfish, one of the biggest fish in the ocean, were discovered scattered throughout a 230-mile stretch of the state’s shore.
“No one is sure why they are washing ashore,” the state parks department said. However, the bodies of not every one of these infamously carnivorous and hermaphroditic animals may be found on the shore.
Some beachgoers reported seeing at least one living fish, which they “helped back to the ocean, and it swam off.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service reports that although lancetfish (whose scientific name Alepisaurus means “scaleless lizard”) are most often found in tropical and subtropical seas, they will go as far north as the Bering Sea in Alaska in search of food.
Although they have been seen in quite shallow waters, the twilight zone—between 650 and 3,300 feet below the surface—is where they feel most at home.
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In general, lancetfish do not frequent the waters immediately adjacent to the coasts of North America. Scientists speculate that the lancets washing ashore may be injured or unwell to the point that they cannot swim. Recent storms are being considered as a possible reason for their arrival.