This discovery has puzzled many in New Zealand. Although the archipelago may be accustomed to living near lush marine flora, a fish this out of the ordinary spurs quite a bit of talk. The animal was discovered by Glenys Howse and James Beuvink, two New Zealanders on holiday on the North Island of the country.
While swimming in the Bay of Islands in the Northlands region, they spotted the fish lying on the sand about 5 feet from the water. Its appearance quickly intrigued them both.
Black with ‘legs’
About 4 inches long and completely black, the specimen had fins that looked strangely like legs. ‘At first I thought, 'Wait a second, what is this thing?' said James Beuvink.
I didn’t really know if it was a fish and when we approached, I saw the eyes and the fins move slightly’ he continued to New Zealand newspaper The Northern Advocate. ‘I thought it might be a stonefish but afterwards I remembered that there aren’t any in New Zealand.’
'Even my friend who had come with us to the Bay of Islands and who has been diving for 30 years had never seen anything like this before.’
Unfortunately, the creature did not survive very long. Their interest piqued, the couple decided to send it to specialists at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
A mysterious frog-fish
After studying the creature the specialists were ready with their findings. The fish is part of the anglerfish family Antennariidae, more commonly known as frogfish. More specifically, it was a Striped Frogfish, except that this specimen was not striped and displayed an unusual colour.
Andrew Steward, an ichthyologist at the museum, said that in 33 years of research he had never seen a fish of this kind.
‘I determined [the species] based on the lure on his head, which is a highly specialised fin with lobes that undulate in order to trick other fish,’ said the specialist.
But this is not the only particularity of these creatures, who generally live at the bottom of the water in the sand.
‘Frogfish have the fastest bite out of any vertebrate, their mouths stretching at a speed approaching that of a bullet from a .22 calibre long rifle, in an environment 800 times denser than air,’ continued Andrew Stewart.
If doubts remain about the true nature of this animal, experts plan to perform more tests on the specimen. According to the ichthyologist, out of the more than fifty species of frogfish known worldwide, only four frequent the waters around New Zealand.
Check out the video above to see more of this bizarre creature for yourself!