7-Foot Fish From Wrong Side Of The Planet Washes Up In America

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7-Foot Fish From Wrong Side Of The Planet Washes Up In America

Thomas Turner

After a humpback whale was discovered in the Amazon rainforest, far from where any humpback should have been this time of year, another huge sea creature is puzzling scientists.

A 7 foot-long hoodwinker sunfish washed up on a California beach on Wednesday, in the first time the species has ever been spotted in the Northern Hemisphere.

Sunfish are massive, oddly shaped ocean creatures that can weight over 2,000 pounds. The hoodwinker species is especially rare, and was only discovered in the last 125 years.

Ocean sunfish.
A common sunfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium shows the size of these odd ocean dwellers.Fred Hsu - Wikimedia

It's name is a nod to how it was often mistaken for more common types of sunfish, and "hoodwinked" marine biologists.

Normally, hoodwinkers spend their days in the oceans off New Zealand's coast, so it's anyone's guess what this specimen was doing on the wrong side of the planet.

Hoodwinker sunfish
Hoodwinker sunfish are normally found near New Zealand.Thomas Turner

Because it was carried onto a beach in UC Santa Barbara's Coal Oil Point Reserve, researchers were quick to spot the sunfish and study it.

Marianne Nyegaard, a sunfish expert from Australia's Murdoch University, was stunned to hear about the discovery.

"I literally, nearly fell off my chair (which I was already sitting on the edge of!)," she told NBC 4.

Hoodwinker sunfish
Hoodwinkers, like this 7-foot specimen, can weight thousands of pounds.Thomas Turner

While experts can say for sure the sunfish had already passed away when it washed up on shore, they hope to figure out its exact cause of death, and explain how it wound up on an American beach.

While this story is pretty freaky, don't start predicting it's the end of the world just yet. Another hoodwinker washed up in the Netherlands, back in 1889.

Hoodwinker sunfish
Experts hope studying the fish will reveal more about its species.Thomas Turner

It's possible that because these fish are so rare, experts still don't understand just how far their habitat extends. But this specimen will teach them much more.

[H/T: NBC 4]

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