The sheepshead fishes are also known as the "convict fish" due to their black and white stripes.
For Nathan Martin, it was just like any other day when he arrived at Jennette's Pier, a fishing destination in Nag's Head, North Carolina, to enjoy the quiet charm of fishing. What he didn't know was that a bizarre water being would end up at the opposite end of his fishing rod. It was a rare sheepshead fish that had human-like teeth in its mouth. According to BBC, the aquatic creature has several rows of molars similar to us which are used to crush the hard shells of its prey, including clams, oysters, and crabs. Thus, the 9-pound creature is aptly named sheepshead fish as its mouth bears an uncanny resemblance to the ruminant mammals.
Martin, a regular on the pier, says he was hoping to catch a sheepshead fish when he ended up coming face-to-face with a "mouth full of teeth." Recalling the struggle to reel it in, Martin continued, "It's a very good fight when you're fighting on the line, it's a really good catch, and it tastes very good." Sheepshead fishes are generally found near jetties, rocks, reefs, and even bridges, per The Independent. They are also known as the "convict fish" due to their black and white stripes. North Carolina aquarium's officials revealed that these fishes are very difficult to catch, however, added that they taste great.
As soon the news about the fish made it to social media, it created quite a buzz. While some were quite freaked out by its appearance, most people joked about contacting the dentist. "I'm done. Nope, you have gone too far nature. Way too far!" shared Sean Dooley. There was one who doubted the authenticity of the picture. "Some of the worst photoshop I've seen!" claimed Pamela A. A third came up with a plan that could help the elderly. "There are better front teeth that a lot of older people have. Perhaps there could be a transplant program," user David J Wilson wrote. "You gotta see your dentist bruh. I know some good ortho tho," joked Eubert Cruz.
Back in 2019, scores of phallic-shaped fish were spotted ashore at Drakes Beach, California, leaving some shocked and others amused. The pink, throbbing, penis-like creatures were exposed along the beach which is about 50 miles north of San Francisco following the raging winter storms in northern California, reports Bay Nature. It was biologist Ivan Parr who first spotted the sea of pink-sausage-looking creatures sprawled across the sandy beach on December 6, according to Daily Mail. "The same phenomenon has been reported over the years at Pajaro Dunes, Moss Landing, Bodega Bay, and Princeton Harbor," he wrote for Nature magazine.
"I've heard my share of imaginative theories from beachcombers, such as flotsam of a wrecked bratwurst freighter. In truth, these are living denizens of our beaches rudely, yet also mercifully, mostly called 'fat innkeeper worms,'" it continued reading. PerThe Guardian, these 10-inch marine worms are called fat innkeeper worms, however, they are colloquially referred to as 'penis fish'. Typically, the penile figures burrow deep into the sand as they mainly thrive in muddy and sandy parts of the seafloor, far beneath the feet of beachgoers.
Apparently, they can live up to 25 years underneath while feeding on plankton, bacteria, and other small particles, using their 'slime nets,' which is also consumed once there's enough food caught. Due to their flexibility and soft built, these create U-shaped burrows that are later used by other creatures when they move on to another spot, hence the name "innkeeper."
Cover image source: Facebook | Jennette's Pier