The strange fanged ‘sea creature’ that washed up on a Texas beach in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey quickly went viral after images were posted on Twitter, but what is it?
Preeti Desai tweeted the images out after discovering the creature on a beach in Texas City earlier this month. “Okay, biology twitter, what the heck is this??,” she wrote.
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Desai, who works for the National Audubon Society, told Fox News that she was assessing damage to field sites and habitats in the aftermath of the hurricane when she made the gruesome find. “I spotted this a couple yards away. It was completely unexpected, not something that you’d typically see on a beach,” she explained, via email. “I thought it could be something from the deep sea that might have washed onto shore. My main reaction was curiosity; I wanted to figure out what it was.”
Twitter was the logical route for Desai, who follows a large number of scientists and researchers. “There’s such a great community of these folks that are very helpful, especially when it comes to answering questions about the world or IDing animals and plants,” she told Fox News. “I got so many guesses from marine biology experts, fish experts, people who just had an interest in this sort of stuff, etc. We were able to narrow it down to some sort of eel.”
A journalist friend of Desai who works for EarthTouchNews.com reached out to eel expert Kenneth Tighe, a specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Tighe was able to narrow it down to most likely a fangtooth snake-eel, or tusky eel, according to Desai, who said that Ben Frable, collection manager of fishes at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, also came to the same conclusion.
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“I was hoping that I could count on that community to help me figure out what I’d seen,” said Desai. “And it definitely worked.”
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