A bizarre deep sea creature which looks like a cross between a crocodile and a dolphin has washed ashore on the banks of an Australian lake.
Father Ethan Tipper snapped an image of the creature washed up off Lake Macquarie in NSW, before posting it online to see if anyone could identify it.
The image has divided social media with some claiming it is a large hairtail and others suggesting the snap has either been photoshopped or captured outside of Lake Macquarie.
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Ethan Tipper snapped the mysterious creature on Lake Macquarie, taking to social media to ask what it was
WHAT IS A PIKE EEL?
- They are native to Australia’s east coast
- Can travel 100 metres deep to feed
- Known to grow up to 1.8 metres in length
- Has an elongated body and long jaws
- Has large pointed teeth on lower jaw and the roof of its mouth
- Is nocturnal and difficult to catch
- The are not poisonous to eat, and are often sold in southeast Asia
But Australian Museum fish collector Mark McGrouther told Daily Mail Australia he suspects it is a pike eel, native to deep waters on the east coast of Australia.
‘This is the first time I have ever seen one of them in the flesh,’ he said.
‘I suspect it was caught and discarded by fisherman who got more than they bargained for when they tried to reel it in.’
The pike eel is known to thrash around violently once hooked, damaging fishing equipment and forcing fishermen to cut their lines.
Thei mage has divided social media with some claiming it is a large hairtail and others suggesting the image has been photoshopped
Australian Museum fish expert Mark McGrouther told Daily Mail Australia he suspects it was a pike eel (pictured) which can grow up to 1.8 metres in length
The pike eel has long slender jaws and large pointed teeth at the front of the lower jaw and on the roof of their mouth
He said it was unclear how large the creature in the image was, but that the photography may have made it appear it deceptively large.
‘They can grow up to 1.8 metres in length, but the angle of this photo makes it difficult to determine how large it is.’
The pike eel has an elongated body and slender jaws with razor sharp teeth on their lower jaw and the roof of their mouth.
They are nocturnal and known to travel as far as 100 metres deep in search of fish and crustaceans to feed on.
A group of fishermen pulled a terrifying prehistoric shark, known as the frill shark, from the water near Lakes Entrance in Victoria’ last year
The sighting at Lake Macquarie comes after a group of fishermen pulled a Goblin shark from waters off the coast of New South Wales in January last year.
The species is elusive as it typically resides in waters near the ocean floor at around 1,200 metres below sea level.
Later that month Victorian fishermen pulled a terrifying frilled shark, named for its six pairs of frill-like gills along with its dorsal fins, from Lakes Entrance.
The shark’s origin dates back 80 million years and it is only one of two species still alive from this period.
Another extremely rare shark species, the goblin shark, was caught last year off the coast of New South Wales