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Odd-looking fish, largest of its kind, washes up on beach, stumps experts: 'Remarkable'

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A stunning fish recently washed ashore in the Pacific Northwest, and experts say it belongs to a newly discovered species.

In a June 6 Facebook post, the Seaside Aquarium in Seaside, Oregon, announced that the unusual aquatic creature was found at a beach in Gearhart on June 3. Experts say that the fish – a hoodwinker sunfish – measured 7.3 feet long.

The hoodwinker sunfish has only been identified as a unique species in the past 10 years. Its sighting is so unusual that Seaside Aquarium said locals flocked to see the fish themselves.

"Initially, this large, strange looking fish was creating quite a stir on social media and, though it was stormy, folks were flocking to the beach to see this unusual fish," the aquarium wrote. "It wasn’t long before news of this fish reached Marianne Nyegaard, a researcher based in New Zealand."

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Split images of hoodwinker sunfish

A hoodwinker sunfish was recently found in Oregon, and it may be the largest of its kind. (Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium)

It was Nyegaard, the aquarium said, who determined that the fish was not an ocean sunfish – or common mola – but rather a hoodwinker sunfish, or Mola tecta.

"It was through her research that she discovered and described this new species of sunfish, which she published in 2017," the post added. "Dubbed a new species hiding in plain sight, it was genetic sampling and eventual observation that contributed to its finding."

"Originally thought to only occupy the temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere, that theory would be challenged as a few have recently washed ashore in California and one as far north as Alaska," officials wrote. "This fish, hiding in plain sight, has most likely been seen/washed ashore in the Pacific Northwest before but was mistaken for the more common, Mola mola."

The aquarium assisted the expert by taking photos of the creature and collecting tissue samples. Nyegaard confirmed that it was a hoodwinker sunfish after analyzing the pictures.

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Wide image of hoodwinker sunfish

The hoodwinker sunfish has only been identified as a unique species in the past 10 years. (Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium)

"This may be the largest specimen ever sampled," the post added.

The fish's body was not collected by the aquarium. As of Thursday, the dead fish was still lying in the same spot on the beach in Gearhart. 

"This fish is still on Gearhart Beach and will probably remain for a few more days, maybe weeks as their tough skin makes it hard for scavengers to puncture," Seaside Aquarium wrote. "It is a remarkable fish and the aquarium encourages people to go see it for themselves."

In the Facebook post's comments section, locals were amazed at the appearance of the fish.

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Woman standing near huge hoodwinker sunfish

The stunning fish measured over 7 feet long, aquatic experts say. (Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium)

"Reason 199,999,789 that I will not swim in the ocean," one astounded Facebook user wrote. "Could you even imagine that thing coming up by you?! It’s a no for me…"

"So sorry it died being it was a rare species!!" another wrote.

Exterior shot of Seaside Aquarium

Seaside Aquarium, located in Oregon, did not collect the dead fish. (Google Maps)

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Seaside Aquarium told Fox News Digital that it was unable to comment on the species' underwater life as it has only recently been identified.

Andrea Vacchiano is a breaking news writer for Fox News Digital and Fox Business. You can follow her on X at @andrea_vacch or send story tips to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

via June 8th 2024