A rarely seen deep water sea fish with fangs washed up on a beach in North Carolina.
The cannibalistic lancet fish startled guests at Jennette's Pier in Nags Head Beach when it was spotted at the popular fishing destination.
Jennette's Pier officials said the fish was alive when it washed up on the shore and North Carolina Aquarium worker, Daryl Law, said it was released after being photographed, My Fox 8 reports.
But WISTV.com reports that the fish had to be released twice as it washed up again and may have been unwell.
Photos of the fish were posted on the Jennette's Pier Facebook page. One user commented: "I wouldn't want that thing lancing me!" Another wrote: "Wow !! Very prehistoric looking !!"
Very little is known about the lancet fish but they are said to grow up to 6.6ft in length and are found in all oceans except polar seas.
They are characterised by their long and very high dorsal fins. Their mouths are wide and each jaw has two or three fang-like teeth. Stomach content studies have found that they feed mainly on squid, salps and other fish, but they are also known to be cannibalistic.
The creatures are extremely rare, and usually live at up to 3,000ft below sea level. It is thought they only come up to the surface when they are injured or dying.
Oceanside police contacted SeaWorld San Diego and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Suzanne Kohin of NOAA, measured the fish before taking it for research.
She told ABC News: "It's so rare to find them in Southern California, especially in surface water. They thought it was a very rare event the first time, so these two events that we heard of in the last few weeks are the only ones I've ever heard of."
Oceanside Police Officer Mark Bussey told NBC News that people were "flabbergasted" to see it on the beach.
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