Scientists are baffled after discovering a rare deep sea oarfish had washed up on a salt marsh in New Zealand.
The serpent like specimen was found by a local man at the entrance of the Otago Harbour, in Dunedin on Thursday.
Samples of the bizaree creature, known to swim vertically as well self-amputate its own tail, were sent to see Otago Museum for testing.
Department of Conservation service manager David Agnew told Daily Mail Australia he had never seen anything like it.
‘I was in the area when a local man called me and said he had found a strange looking fish on his morning walk. It was unlike anything I had ever seen.’
It must have just washed up and it was very fresh. It’s a very weird looking creature. Instead of scales it has this smooth skin, like tinfoil, and if you rubbed it the silver would come onto your hand.’
Mr Agnew snapped some images and sent them off to the University of Otago.
‘They got back to me very quickly to say it was an oarfish, which I had never heard of. It’s incredibly rare to see them in New Zealand.’
The fish, which can grow to eleven metres in length, are are known to eat of sections of their own tail.
Scientists have been unable to explain why they self-amputate, but some have proposed it is a form of protection.
The frightening appearance of the fish means they have have been associated with various myths, including people mistaking them for sea-serpents.
It has even been suggested that the Loch Ness Monster was an oarfish.
Otago Museum later took tissue and organ samples of the elusive fish in a bid to find out what caused it to be washed ashore.
‘Oarfish are typically often found hundreds of metres underwater. It’s likely this fish was moved here from a very strong current,’ Mr Agnew said.
By Nelson Groom