Have you seen anything like this at your boat launch? This strange creature was found on the shores of Lake Macquarie in Australia recently. Robert Tyndall found the carcass while fishing and snapped a photo, which was eventually shared on Facebook and went viral. From the looks of the creature and its size—roughly 4.5 feet long—Tyndall suspected that the critter was actually a very large eel. Marine biologist Julian Pepperell agrees, although it is hard to tell what species of eel it is from the advanced deterioration of the carcass.

“I think it’s definitely a pike eel. The head is very indicative of that species,” Pepperell told the Illawarra Mercury.”It’s hard from the photo to get an idea of the scale.”

At over four feet long, the eel is near the maximum ever recorded for its species. Pepperell says the animal appeared to be very old and may have died from natural causes. Pike eels are not commonly seen by anglers, but they do have a rather notorious reputation. Reeling in a pike eel can be a dangerous proposition since the species is aggressive and has a powerful bite.

“They have incredibly strong muscle and their teeth are geared towards inflicting slashing wounds,” Pepperell said.

Australian anglers traditionally avoid areas with a large concentration of pike eels. There are some that pursue them however, since they are edible and considered a regional delicacy where they are legal to harvest. Tyndall said he never expected his picture to receive so much attention. He told the Newcastle Herald that the perspective from where he took the photo made it appear much larger than it was, and viewers came away with their own wild ideas. Some even accused him of using Photoshop to enlarge the critter.

“I think everyone enjoys using their imagination. Judging by the comments, it was growing by the minute,” he said.

Image from Facebook

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