Sunday, March 7, 2010

Strange creature found dead on East Coast Beach

 Strange creature found dead on East Coast Beach
STOMPer Wei Wei found this weird looking creature washed up on East Coast Beach.

In an email to STOMP today (Mar 7), the STOMPer says:

"This unidentified creature was found dead at East Coast Park near barbeque pit 17c.

"It looks like a snake with no eye."

My suspicion is that it's some sort of eel. The little bulge at the front half of the body is probably the swim bladder or another internal organ which has become exposed through a tear in the body.

Likely candidates as to which species of eel this is include the burrowing snake eel (Pisodonophis cancrivorus) or estuarine moray (Gymnothorax tile), among several others. It's difficult to narrow it down further, since the person who submitted this to STOMP did not provide any details about the size of the carcass, nor were any close-ups taken.

At about this time last year, I did a series of blog posts on eels.

Part 1: Moray eels (Muraenidae)
Part 2: Snake eels (Ophichthidae)
Part 3: Conger eels (Congridae) and Pike conger eels (Muraenesocidae)
Part 4: Freshwater eels (Anguillidae)
Part 5: Spaghetti eels (Moringuidae) and false moray eels (Chlopsidae)
Part 6: Non-eels

This article reminds me so much of the silliness that often takes place when decomposed carcasses wash up on the beach, leading to rampant speculation by people who frankly don't know enough about animals to make any educated guesses. Take for example the Montauk Monster, which was encountered on Long Island in New York in 2008 and 2009. Based on the images, zoologist Darren Naish among others showed that the carcasses were most likely nothing more than ordinary raccoons (Procyon lotor) that had simply spent some time decomposing in the water.

I'm more intrigued by what looks like some sort of cord tied around the animal's body, and whether it had any part to play in the eel's death. Is this a possible case of death by entanglement in plastic debris?