Hurricane Harvey brought with it many things, high winds, a lot of rain, and danger to so many. It turns out that the terrifying storm may have carried in something a little more unexpected. Preeti Desai, a photographer and member of the National Audubon Society, made a discovery on a Texas City beach that has scientists struggling for an answer. She posted a picture of the bizarre creature on Twitter asking for help to identify it.
The photos show an alien-looking animal with what appears to be small fins, a long tail, no eyes, and fierce teeth. Desai stated, “On first glance, it looked like something from the deep sea to me. My initial thought was it might be a sea lamprey but when I got close I realized there was no way that was what it was, particularly based on the mouth. We squished it around a bit, and even turned it over but couldn’t come up with any other ideas.”
— Preeti Desai? (@preetalina) September 6, 2017
The Twitter universe responded en masse, some making outright guesses and others using biological knowledge.
“Definitely not an eel, nor a shark. Try something within the Saccopharyngiforma order, tehy [sic] are deep sea fish and sometimes found stranded.”
“But is that not an eye? Barely see it but that looks like an eye? Could be an Aplatophis chauliodus or fangtooth snake eel?”
“I’d agree, could be some sort of eel; but not a moray, given it appears to have had pectoral fins. OR aquatic xenomorph…”
Popular opinion seems to have determined that it is an Aplatophis chauliodus otherwise known as a Fang-toothed snake eel or Tusky eel. They are said to live in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico up to depths of almost 300 feet and usually reside at that bottom.
This type of eel is a carnivore which would explain the sharp teeth. They can grow as long as just under three feet. The one notable difference is the lack of eyes on the animal found by Desai. Some have suggested that the eyes may have deteriorated before she found it.
Unfortunately, this mystery was not the only animal washed ashore. The hurricanes pushed ashore dolphins, seals, manatees, and many others. Some were able to be rescued by concerned citizens and others sadly died. The eel, if that is truly what it is, happened to be one of the casualties but at the very least, we got to see something most of us would never have experienced.