What if you were walking on the beach and saw a prehistoric looking creature washed up on shore?  It’s three feet to seven feet long, and has big, buggy eyes, and very sharp fangs!    It’s not a monster, or something from another planet, it’s probably a Lancetfish.   Lancetfish usually live deep, deep in the sea in tropical and subtropical waters.  Why they’re showing up in Oregon and Washington isn’t clear, but experts guess they could be following food.

If you find one, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to know.  While they don’t officially keep track of sightings, they do want to know where they’re washing ashore.   I talked to Lynn Mattes at ODFW and she tells me she gets a lot of calls from people thinking they’ve found a barricuda.   I actually have video of a strange creature I found on Lopez Island a couple of summers ago.  I sent it to Mattes and she and her colleagues agree it’s probably a lancetfish.  I still have my doubts because to me, it’s eyes weren’t “buggy” enough, and I didn’t see  prominent fins on it’s back.   We’ll let you decide for yourself by watching my video:

Here are some other facts about them:  They’re cannibalistic, they’re scaleless, with smooth skin and pores along the lateral line. Lancetfish are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female sex organs simultaneously.  They don’t taste very good to humans.  They’re watery and gelatinous, but other large predators like sharks, tuna, and fur seals — and other lancetfish — don’t mind.