Mystery sea creature that washed ashore during Hurricane Harvey identified by Twitter
A rarely seen sea creature was found dead on a Texas beach after days of rain from Hurricane Harvey.
Science communicator Preeti Desai posted a picture of the blob-like, fanged animal in the aftermath of the hurricane, asking for experts on Twitter to help her identify it.
“Okay, biology twitter, what the heck is this?? Found on a beach in Texas City, TX,” she wrote on Twitter.
Most likely it’s a fangtooth snake-eel, Dr. Keeneth Tighe, an eel specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History told Earth Touch News Network.
But it could also be another member of the snake-eel family, he explained.
“All three of these species occur off Texas and have large fang-like teeth. Too bad you can’t clearly see the tip of the tail. That would differentiate between the [species].”
Fangtooth snake-eels usually reside in burrows, with only their snouts and eyes exposed, according to Fishbase.org. Earth Touch News reported that rough winds and strong currents from the recent storms are most likely the reason it ended up on shore.
Desai, who works with National Audubon Society, was in the area to document the effect the hurricane had on bird species’ habitats in the area when she came upon the large eel.
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“I thought it could be a sea lamprey but when I saw its face, I knew there was no way it was. We tried to figure out what it could be but didn’t have any ideas so I decided to take some photos and ask the Twitterverse,” Desai told Global News.
She’s excited by the coverage, but says there’s no reason for people to be scared of the eel.
“The thing was maybe 2-2.5 feet at most and already dead. I know there’s a tendency to react this way to something unknown, but I think some of it may be because we’re so disconnected from nature,” she said.
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The snake-eel isn’t the only thing washed up from the recent storms. Two manatees washed up on the coast of Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Officials say the water was sucked out of Sarasota Bay due to the storm.
Several people posted photos Sunday of the mammals on Facebook, hoping rescue workers or wildlife officials would respond. Michael Sechler posted that the animals were far too massive to be lifted, so the rescuers gave them water.
Marcelo Clavijo posted that a group of people eventually loaded the manatees onto tarps and were able to drag them to deeper water.
— With a file from the Associated Press
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