Lancetfish: Several Cannibal Fish from Twilight Zone Mysteriously Washes Up Along Oregon Beaches

Several cannibal fish called lancetfish (Alepisarurus ferox) known for dwelling in the deep ocean “twilight zone” are washing up along Oregon beaches in the past several weeks, according to reports.

Local authorities consider the spike in strandings as unusual and mysterious at the same time.

Even now, authorities have no clue as to the reason behind the phenomenon.

Unlike other fish, little is known about the said cannibal species despite being a large predatory fish, as well as having a presence in all the world’s oceans with the exception of the polar seas.

The rarity of the lancetfish makes it even harder to explain the strange incidents.

Several theories have emerged to explain the potential cause behind the strandings, which also included other marine animals like whales, dolphins, and seals as victims.

Still, there is no official conclusion yet that would answer the mystery of the Oregon lancetfish strandings.

Oregon Lancetfish Strandings

(Photo : Image by fstoep from Pixabay )

In a Facebook post on May 2, the Oregon State Parks stated several lancetfish washed ashore along Oregon’s beaches in the past few weeks, with areas ranging from Nehalem south to Bandon.

However, the state parks clarified it is unclear why the marine animals were stranded in the first place.

In the social media post, the photo of the lancetfish being shown was found alive and brought back to the ocean where it swam off.

Nevertheless, previous incidents involving the same fish species were found dead along Oregon beaches.

Also Read: Paddleboarders Discovered Bizarre-Looking Giant Sunfish Washed Ashore in California

Twilight Zone Habitat

A. Ferox typically lives in tropical and subtropical waters of Earth.

Although having reported presence in shallow waters, the lancet fish’s preferred habitat is the twilight zone with a depth of approximately 650 to 3,300 feet, according to Live Science.

Daniel J. Kamikawa, a biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told Live Science that he could not find any record of previous mass strandings of lancetfish.

In a normal scenario, Kamikawa explains one or two lancetfish around found along a wide stretch of the coast.

However, his research points out that the Oregon strandings and elsewhere are not common.

Lancetfish Stranding Theories

The recurring appearance of the lancetfish, being one of the largest fish species to live in the deep ocean, along the West Coast has baffled scientists, The New York Times reported.

It was reported that scientists are not sure why this is happening, with the latest Oregon beach stranding occurring on Monday, May 1.

The recent stranding only adds to further speculations regarding the phenomenon.

As mentioned earlier, below are three potential theories that would explain why the cannibal fish washed ashore, according to Live Science.

First, the stranded lancetfish were either injured or sick which hindered them to swim properly.

The second theory suggested a storm was responsible for pushing them into shallow waters and to the shore eventually.

Third, a phenomenon called temperature shock, which pertains to exposure to water colder than one’s average temperature, is causing the strandings.

Related Article: Rare Cannibalistic Lancet Fish Washes Ashore

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