Harvey raises rare marine creature from the deep
Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 7:40 PM - It seems Hurricane Harvey displaced more than just the land-dwelling residents of the beleaguered Texas coast.
Science communicator Preeti Desai came across ... something ... as she surveyed a beach in Texas City for post-hurricane damage, and turned to Twitter for help identifying the mysterious creature.
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Image courtesy Preeti Desai/Twitter
Desai came across the decaying creature the week after Harvey made landfall in Texas. "It was completely unexpected," she told the BBC. "My main reaction was curiosity, to figure out what the heck it was."
Turning to the active science community on Twitter seems to have been the right course of action, as the answer turned up in the person of eel specialist Dr Kenneth Tighe, a biologist from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Dr. Tighe labeled the animal a "tusky eel", also known by the less-flattering (but very descriptive) name fangtooth snake-eel. The animal generally lives in underwater burrows, 30 to 90 metres beneath the waves of the western Atlantic, although they do reportedly venture into shallower water from time to time.
The driving winds, storm surge, and flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey are suspected to have brought the unusual marine animal ashore.
Tighe mentions that the eel might also belong to one of two other species, though it's hard to tell without seeing the tip of the tail. "All three species occur off Texas and have large fang-like teeth."
Thumbnail image courtesy Preeti Desai