Scientists are baffled by a huge seven-stone fish that was found washed up on a beach.
The one-metre long reddish-orange creature was discovered on the sands of the northern Oregon coast in the US and is the first of its kind ever to be seen in the area.
US officials at Seaside Aquarium were alerted to the rare scene last week after the large, round, glistening Opah fish weighing 45 kilograms was discovered stranded ashore.
Opah, also called moonfish, can grow more to than six feet long and weigh more than 600 pounds.
Tiffany Boothe, assistant manager at the aquarium in the small beach community confirmed that it was the first opah fish she had seen there.
With a body comprising a mix of silvery and bright orange scales, splattered with white spots and eyes with specks of gold, the unusual-looking fish was in “great condition”, when it was found, reports Stuff, meaning it must have been close to the shore when it died.
The Seaside Aquarium posted the find on Facebook and Ms Boothe said the fish had “caused quite the stir,” on the social media site.
She said officials at the aquarium called as many people as they could to come and see it.
Heidi Dewar, a research biologist with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, said a fish a large as the Opah being found stranded was highly unusual, but it could be due to the changing climate.
“We are seeing some marine organisms moving northward as ocean temperatures increase,” she explained, noting that without enough data, it was hard to say what might cause an Opah stranding.
She said there were some of the breed found off the California coast however, so they did exist near Oregon.
Opah are normally found in tropical and temperate waters, including the United States’ West Coast, Southeast, New England, the Pacific islands and the United States’ West Coast.
There is little information available about the fish though, including its average life span.
“Not a lot is known about these beautiful fish, so anything we can learn will be beneficial,” Ms Boothe said.
The washed up Opah in Oregon will be frozen until later this year, when students at the aquarium will get a chance to dissect it with help from the Columbia River Maritime Museum.