DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Carolyn Hoffman was walking along the beach in Delray Beach on Jan. 5 with her husband when something odd caught her eye.
A long, ribbon-shaped fish with a large, bulging eye had washed up in the surf.
"It just rolled up on the beach in front of us," Hoffman said. "I've never seen anything shaped like that."
Her husband, Harry Furrevig, is a fisherman, so Hoffman decided to take his photo with this odd sea creature to add to his collection of fishing photos.
"Let's fillet this and eat it," Furrevig told her jokingly. "I said no thanks," Hoffman said.
Palm Beach Atlantic University biology professor Ray Waldner, an ichthyologist, said the fish is probably an oarfish – a fish in a family by itself, the longest of the bony fishes.
It could also be a "dealfish," Waldner said.
The fins of the fish in Hoffman's photos do not match an oarfish precisely, Waldner said, but they could have been worn down in the surf.
"It's not that rare to have one of these things wash up on the beach," Waldner said.
When oarfish do wash up, they usually have a hole in their sides, Waldner said. That's because the ribbon-shaped fish are often gored through the side by billfish.
If the fish is an oarfish, it's actually a small one, Waldner said. Oarfish are common to 26 feet long and have been found to grow as long as 56 feet.