Hurricane Harvey swept through Texas leaving a path of destruction in its wake. It displaced thousands of people, caused extreme flooding and disrupted the habitat of many animals as well. Preeti Desai of the National Audobon Society took to Twitter last week when she found a strange sea creature on a Texas City beach after the hurricane. She asked the public for help identifying the mysterious creature.
The deceased sea creature had a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth, along with a large cylinder-shaped body and no apparent eyes. Desai explained, “On first glance it looked like something from the deep sea to me. My initial thought was it might be a sea lamprey but when I got close I realized there was no way that was what it was, particularly based on the mouth.”
Unable to make an identification on her own, Desai posted photos of the sea creature on Twitterand asked biologists for help. “This is the kind of thing that’s perfect for Twitter – there are so many scientists and researchers on the platform and they’re very willing to jump in and figure out things like this,” she said.
Biologists Reveal The Mysterious Creature’s Identity
Several biologists who responded to Desai’s posts believed that the sea monster was an eel, but they weren’t sure what kind. Desai said, “I mentally smacked my forehead, because once that was suggested I could absolutely see the eel shape.”
The most common suggestion was that the animal was a fangtooth snake-eel, also known as the tusky eel, native to the Gulf of Mexico. These eels typically live in waters that are 30-90 meters deep. They spend most of their time hidden, but occasionally they venture out of the shadows. Tusky eels do have eyes, but they are small and may have decomposed by the time Desai came across the body.
Dr. Kenneth Tighe of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History believes the dead creature is a tusky eel, but it could be from either the garden or conger eel family. “It might be a Bathyuroconger vicinus or Xenomystax congroides,” he said. “…These species occur off Texas and have large fang-like teeth.”