This football isn’t for playing. (See the photos below.)
A beach visitor made the exceedingly rare find of a Pacific footballfish that had washed up on shore at Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County, California, on Friday.
It’s a type of anglerfish that dwells thousands of feet below the surface, Davey’s Locker Sportfishing noted in a post.
The fish isn’t uncommon in the ocean’s dark depths, but it’s highly unusual to see it perfectly preserved on a Southern California beach, the fishing company said.
The first spine of its dorsal fins, the illicium, serves as a funky overhead lamp with a phosphorescent bulb on the end to attract its prey.
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife now reportedly has the 18-inch carcass.
Fun fact about the Pacific footballfish: Males are up to 10 times smaller than females and fuse themselves to their mate to serve “as an easily accessible source of sperm,” according to the California Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Bruce Robison of Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute said anglerfish are “among the most rarely seen of all deep-sea fishes,” according to For the Win.