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Rare Cannibalistic Lancet Fish Washes Ashore

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May 17, 2014 11:41 AM EDT
lancetfish
Yet another unusual, deep-sea marine animal has surfaced. This time it is a rare, cannibalistic lancet fish that washed up on the beaches of North Carolina on Monday. (Photo : Facebook)

Yet another unusual, deep-sea marine animal has surfaced. This time it is a rare, cannibalistic lancet fish that washed up on the beaches of North Carolina on Monday.

The ferocious-looking fish, which inhabits the deep ocean and is rarely seen, startled guests of Jennette's Pier in Nags Head when it was found on the shores of the popular fishing destination. Locals snapped pictures of the mysterious species before releasing it back into the ocean, MyFox8 reported.

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The fish reportedly had to be released twice because it washed up on shore again and was likely ill, according to WISTV.com.

A lancetfish, known for its exceptionally wide mouth and razor-sharp teeth, can grow up to 6.6 feet in length. Although they can be found in almost any ocean on Earth except for the polar seas, little is known about their biology.

"Lancetfish - Check out these images of what we believe is a lancetfish. It was photographed Monday night, just south of the pier. They rarely come close to shore as they're an open ocean or pelagic fish. Have you ever seen or heard of them?" Jennette's Pier wrote on their Facebook page.

According to the Daily Mail, there was a mixed reaction to the posting, which may have scared beachgoers from going into the water, but the images have since been shared hundreds of times and have hit mainstream and online media.

Characterized by a large, sail-like dorsal fin, the lancetfish is also known for its tendency to snack on its own species, oceanographers say. The cannibalistic creature eats crabs but a significant portion of its natural diet comes from other lancet fish. Their diet is also believed to include squid and other fish, KDVR reported.

Daryl Law, from the North Carolina Aquarium, and Leif Rasmussen managed to take a few pictures before releasing the fish back into the wild.

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