Mystery fish
April 17, 2008 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Please help me identify a fish that washed up on a Pacific Ocean beach in Oregon.

(warning in advance, a few pictures could be considered gory)

I have a few pictures of a fish that beached itself while I was taking a walk. A better explanation is posted under the pictures themselves. If anyone can identify it, i'd be most appreciative. Thanks in advance for any help.

I may not be able to respond to requests for more information for a few days.
posted by efalk to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Looks like a snake mackerel. Gempylidae.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:10 AM on April 17, 2008

Best answer: Sure looks like a Long Nose Lancet, an oceanic predatory fish.

One recently washed up on Cannon Beach. They've been found on Washington beaches, too. In fact, Seattle's KING-5 News ran a story just last week about a Lancet that washed up in Ocean Shores (pics and video).
posted by prinado at 10:43 AM on April 17, 2008

My first thought was beltfish. There are no pictures of the caudal region (tail), so it's hard to distinguish my guess from prinado's.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:19 AM on April 17, 2008

The dorsal fin isn't high enough to be a Lancet, I think kuujjuarapik called it with beltfish.
posted by Bonzai at 11:42 AM on April 17, 2008

I too think it's a longnose lancet, the dorsal fin rays are pretty fragile and break off so it's not uncommon to see them like this. In the photos you can see that the front rays are longer. Plus Oregon in April seems a bit cold for a beltfish.

Fishbase is a great resource for photos and morphology.
posted by fshgrl at 6:04 PM on April 17, 2008

Response by poster: Looking at the pics and video of the lancet fish, I'd say it is the closest to what I found. The pictures on the Cannon Beach article seem closer than the video from Ocean Shores though. The tail was eaten off by the time of the pictures, but it's structure was of two fins extending out, which seems rather different than the beltfish.

Regarding the dorsal fin, I'd approximate it at roughly a foot high at the very beginning. I wasn't able to get it extended out as high as it could when the fish was alive.

Odd that these are washing up, and that they are rare enough to be news items. Thanks for all the answers.
posted by efalk at 4:33 PM on April 21, 2008

Response by poster: On the off chance anyone ever reads this, here is an article from the Oregonian in which there apppears to have been a rash of lancetfish, and other species washingup on the West coast. The second picture is exactly what I saw.

Thanks again for everyone's interest.
posted by efalk at 7:54 PM on December 25, 2008

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