Rare 7-foot deceptive sunfish washes up on Oregon beach

Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium

A rare deceptive sunfish was found on the Oregon coast earlier this week.


A rare 7.3-foot deceptive sunfish washed up on the Oregon Coast earlier this week, the Seaside Aquarium said.

The massive aquatic species was found north of Seaside in northwest Oregon along Gearhart Beach on June 3.

A buzz on social media caused curious people to “flock to the beach to see this unusual fish,” according to the aquarium.

In photos shared by the aquarium, the strange-looking giant fish, shaped like an inflated silver dollar, appeared to be lying on its side in the sand with its mouth open.

The fish was initially thought to only inhabit the temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere, but “this theory would be called into question as a few recently washed up in California and one as far north as Alaska,” according to the Seaside Aquarium.

The aquarium said news of the fish’s existence reached New Zealand researcher Mariann Nyegaard, who said the images indicated it was not just any typical ocean, or Mola mola , a sunfish.

Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium/AP

This image shows a deceptive sunfish that washed up on June 3, 2024, on a beach in Gearhart, Oregon.

Nyegaard recognized the species washed up on the Oregon coast as the deceptive sunfish, or Mola tecta. The researcher had already discovered the new species of sunfish through her research and described this unique discovery in an article published in 2017.

“This fish, hidden in plain sight, has most likely been previously seen/washed up on shore in the Pacific Northwest, but has been confused with the more common Mola mola,” according to the aquarium.

Nyegaard contacted the aquarium to request genetic samples of the fish and the aquarium took additional images and measurements, leading to the conclusion “that this may be the largest specimen ever sampled.” .

The sea creature remains on the beach Saturday, the aquarium confirmed to CNN in an email.

“They will likely stay for a few more days or even weeks, as their tough skin makes it difficult for scavengers to puncture them,” the aquarium said on Facebook.

CNN’s Ashley R. Williams contributed to this report.

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