It has glowing green eyes, a set of what appeared to be wings, and a long snout that resembled slimy tentacles. What is it? The commercial fishermen who caught this strange creature off the coast of Newfoundland could not identify it either, but they sure thought it was creepy.
“All the production stopped and everything so everybody could check it out,” Scott Tanner, the fisherman who first noticed the fish, told CBC News. “Even the older guys that are 50, 60 years old, they’ve seen maybe one in their lifetime so they thought it was pretty neat and I snapped a couple pictures.”
Tanner later posted the picture to Facebook, from where it was eventually disseminated to the rest of the internet.
“What is this? So cool!” wrote one commenter.
According to experts, the fish appears to be a rarely-seen deepsea fish called the knifenose—or long-nosed—chimaera. These fish generally live between 660 to 6,600 feet underneath the surface of the ocean. Since they are so rarely seen, scientists know little about them and their behavior. In the few cases where they have been documented in their native habitat, chimaera are known to be able to “glide” through the water on their wing-like fins. They also sport a venomous spine in their first dorsal fin to fight off predators. They are considered a primitive fish similar to sharks.
“It’s a kind of neat-looking thing,” Andrew Hebda, curator of zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax, told the National Post. “The eyes are quite striking.”
The fish was already dead by the time Tanner found it in the net, and the fishermen say they returned it back to the ocean shortly after.
“I definitely wouldn’t think about eating it,” Tanner said.
Another long-nosed chimaera was discovered in Nunavut in 2013, when it was caught by a small fishing vessel. You can watch on swimming below: