Fish out of water: Eel rarely seen in Oregon washes ashore

Oregon Coast

The eel is now at the Seaside Aquarium

Pacific Snake Eel found on the Oregon Coast. March 29, 2020 (Courtesy Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A rare sight washed ashore on Sunset Beach in Oregon Sunday morning. The Seaside Aquarium reports that a passerby came across eel that is not typically found this far north in the Pacific.

A citizen walking along the beach came across a creature wiggling in the sand. Thinking it was a sea snake, that person called the Seaside Aquarium for assistance—while the aquarium is not currently open to visitors, staff are still on-site to care for the animals.

Pacific Snake Eel found on the Oregon Coast. March 29, 2020 (Courtesy Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium)

What was thought to be a sea snake was actually a Pacific Snake Eel (Ophichthus triserialis). According to the aquarium, these eels typically live between northern California and Peru, and are rarely seen this far north. The last time one was spotted in the area was in March of 2019 on the Long Beach peninsula in Washington.

This was only the third time a Pacific Snake Eel was found on an Oregon beach, that experts are aware of.

The Seaside Aquarium said the eel was too lethargic to go back into the ocean, so staff members brought it back to their facilities. It is currently being cared for in its own tank.

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