Andy Rees spotted the bizarre beast at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, in Wales and initially thought it was dead seal until he got a closer look
Image: Credit: Andy Rees/Pen News)
A “gruesome” deep-sea creature with a mouthful of sharp teeth gave a runner a shock after his foot became trapped in its jaws on a Welsh beach.
Andy Rees was running along the sands at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, when he spotted what he thought might be a dead baby seal washed up.
He said: “I decided to turn it over with my foot to be sure what it was, not realising I’d put my foot in its huge mouth.
“As I flipped it over my foot got stuck in the teeth inside the mouth, which gave me a bit of a shock.
“Its mouth was huge, with very sharp teeth. It was a gruesome, frightening-looking fish.
“I could feel how sharp the teeth were as I struggled to free my foot from its mouth.”
Credit: Andy Rees/Pen News)
Mr Rees soon realised he had encountered an anglerfish – a species typically found at depths of 550m to 2000m.
Its teeth had pierced the top of his shoes and sunk into his foot; though thankfully no blood was drawn.
He said: “I have seen it in photographs but never in the sea or on a beach.
“I always thought anglerfish only live in the deep ocean, so I was surprised to see it in our local shallow waters.
“The most curious thing was a large spine about 30cm long on top of its head, with a fleshy bit at the end.
“That’s what made me think it might be an anglerfish – as they use the fleshy bit as a lure to attract the fish they prey on.”
He added: “It was a very ugly-looking fish.”
Credit: Andy Rees/Pen News)
Anglerfish will be known to many from a cameo appearance in 2003 film Finding Nemo, when one nearly devoured Dory after entrancing her with its lure.
In Andy’s photos, the guts of the creature are visible as it lies belly-up on the beach.
Then, when the fish is flipped over, its impressive array of teeth can be seen, along with the lure protruding from its head.
Andy estimates the animal was more than half a metre long.
It’s unclear how the deep-sea fish ended up at the surface, but experts have a theory.
A spokesperson from the Marine Conservation Society said: “It’s likely the fish has ended up on the coast as a result of the stormy weather we’ve been having lately.”
Mr Rees thinks the anglerfish may have faced another challenge in shallow waters.
He said: “It looked like it had been attacked by something, probably by a seal.
“Its innards we’re exposed and its tail had been bitten I think. It didn’t smell though, so I don’t think it had been dead for long.
“At the moment there are a lot of seals around Gower after giving birth to their pups.”
The encounter is an experience that Andy – a keen photographer – won’t soon forget. “I’m glad I took my camera with me,” he said.
“I’d got some fabulous red sunrises the two days beforehand, but that morning there was 100% cloud, so it was obvious I wouldn’t get a good sunrise photo.
“But I thought I’d take my camera anyway on my run, as you never know what you might find of interest.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.