'Strange animal' uncovered on Washington beach is 'incredibly rare' find

Last week, marine experts at Seaside Aquarium fielded a call about a bizarre sea creature found buried in the sand at a beach in Long Beach, Washington.

While it's not surprising to receive calls about "strange animals," the aquarium – one of the oldest on the West Coast – acknowledged that what they found was far from typical.

After doing some digging, a crew uncovered the snake-like fish and when they cleared the sand that clung to its skin, they were "surprised" to find it was a Pacific snake-eel.

"[It's] an animal which has never been seen on the Washington Coast," Seaside Aquarium officials announced online Friday.

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A woman named Candace Woodbury discovered the sea creature at a significant distance from the water.

The dryness of the fish concerned the aquarium but, at that point, it was still alive.

This particular kind of eel "has never been seen on the Washington Coast," according to Seaside Aquarium.

This particular kind of eel "has never been seen on the Washington Coast," according to Seaside Aquarium. (Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium)

"These fish are usually found at depths between 25 feet and 500 feet," Seaside explained, adding that it was "remarkable" the fish was still breathing.

Unfortunately, the eel was in no shape to return to the sea. Instead, a team of biologists decided to bring it back to the Oregon-based aquarium, is part of the Washington/Northern Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

"The eel is currently in an isolated in a tank which we are slowly warming to make the eel more comfortable," the aquarium said. "There is some damage on its pectoral fins that we are hoping will heal."

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The eel is currently recovering at the Seaside Aquarium in Oregon.

The eel is currently recovering at the Seaside Aquarium in Oregon. (Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium)

Pacific snake-eels have been spotted living in the waters of Peru to northern California, according to the privately-owned aquarium. A top biologist in the area told the Chinook Observer the recent find was very unusual.

"While Pacific snake eels have been documented off both OR and WA they are incredibly rare this far north," Daniel J. Kamikawa, a research fisheries biologist with the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), told the newspaper. "The bulk of their distribution appears to be from central and southern CA south to Peru and includes the Gulf of California. We had a dead one turned in by a beachcomber here in Newport a few years back and we had another wash up on the beach. They are not in my book since they are incredibly rare north of Point Conception, CA and in waters outside 20 meters."