Strange Fish Appears on Texas Shore


A snapper eel washed up on the beach | Image by Suzanne Arceneaux

A strange-looking fish washed up on the shore of Galveston Bay earlier this month, and people were puzzled about what exactly it was.

Suzanne Choate Arceneaux shared photos on January 9 of the creepy creature on Bolivar Beachcombers, a Facebook group where members share their beach findings.

Arceneaux captioned the picture, “Was walking the beach today and noticed a lot of dead things, seagulls, pelicans, stingray, a ton of jellyfish. I did find a strange fish. Can someone tell me what it is??”

The fish appears long and slender and, at the time of the picture, had its mouth gaping open, showing its sharp, pointed teeth. Many people commented with their theories.

Anthony Davis commented that it looked like “a deep-sea lizard fish.” Another commenter called it their “next nightmare.”

Tiffany Perkins tagged a friend merely to tell them to “look at how creepy this is.” Several people compared it to the sandworms from Beetlejuice and Tremors – large, snake-like movie villains that came from Saturn’s moon Titan.

Some commenters expressed their concern that many different species have been spotted dead and washed up on the shore in Galveston. Commenter Bobbie Osborn Emmet asked, “what is killing everything?” Alicia Griffis wondered, “Is anyone worried about the multiple species that are dead? Is there an oil spill or something else in the water?” Another commenter mentioned seeing multiple dead birds on the beach.

Some people guessed correctly that the mystery carcass was a type of eel.

One commenter, Seth Patterson, gave a very detailed response, even speculating as to why the fish washed up dead. He said that snapper eels are “common inhabitants of the sandy coastline of the Gulf Coast and when the temperatures drop dramatically along the near-shore waters they are often some of the more prolific causalities (sic) of the cold snap.”

The San Antonio Express-News spoke to Mark Fisher, the coastal fisheries science director for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, who confirmed these guesses. He told them it was a snapper eel that is actually fairly common in the Galveston Bay area. However, these eels usually do not end up washed up on the shore, which is probably why most people were puzzled at what it was.

Snapper eels can grow up to six feet in length. They are most commonly found in the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the waters of Cuba, northern South America, Senegal, and Angola. They usually live in water 130-330 feet deep, probably adding to the rarity of this sighting.

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3 days ago

The fish, birds and other creatures living in our oceans are dying from pollution! Quit dumping trash into the oceans and maybe there’s still time for nature to renew itself! 💜