Mysterious Sea Animal Washes up on New Zealand Beach, Draws ‘Alien’ Comparisons

November 29, 2018 Updated: November 30, 2018

A mysterious sea creature with sharp teeth and spike-covered skin was discovered by a New Zealand woman.

Hanna Mary was walking along the beach with her mother when she saw a strange-looking skeletal creature at Rakaia Huts beach in Canterbury, New Zealand, on Nov. 24.

Can anyone help identify this fish/ray/alien I found washed up at rakaia huts???

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Hanna Mary‎‏ في السبت، ٢٤ نوفمبر ٢٠١٨

“When I pulled it out and saw all the teeth and barbs I was convinced it was a rare deep-sea creature,” Mary told Fox News. “I was so excited because I love the ocean and its inhabitants.”

She took several photos of the skeletal figure, posting it on social media to find out what it was.

“Can anyone help identify this fish/ray/alien I found washed up at Rakaia Huts???” she wrote on Facebook.

Many suggested that it was some kind of ray. But some said it could be a saw shark or a type of skate, which is a type of fish similar to a ray.

“I don’t know, looks … creepy,” another person wrote.

“First I thought it was a plastic sheeting. I pulled it out from underneath the sticks and it was a bit more than just a piece of plastic,” she told the New Zealand Herald.

“[Mary’s mother] found an interesting piece of wood, she picked it up and at the time she yelled out ‘omg’ and I picked up the critter and I screamed louder than she did,” Mary said. Her mother then dropped whatever she was holding and went running to Mary, Mary said.

Mary didn’t touch it because she believed it might be poisonous, but she ultimately mustered up enough courage to pick it up.

“I took it all the way home and gave it to a taxidermist next door to see if he knew what it was but he wasn’t too sure either,” she said. “That why I thought I should reach out and see if anyone else knew what it is.”

When people tried guessing what it was, they came up empty.

“A few of the guesses were a wee bit absurd because it looks so bizarre,” Mary stated. “Every time we tried to match it with the guesses it just didn’t line up. My guess it that it’s some sort of deep-sea skate, maybe a Bathyraja abyssicola, that might have been picked up by a trawler.

“I’m hoping that I have the winning guess,” she added.

Malcolm Francis, a fisheries scientist as well as marine ecologist at National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), said it’s a New Zealand rough skate.

“They are called rough skate because they are very prickly … it’s quite common in Canterbury,” he said. “It’s like flat shark, it has a skeleton made out of cartilage. They spend much of their time on the bottom.”

They’re occasionally caught by fishermen, who will sell the wings for food.

“You might see them in the fish shops in the South Island,” he said. “It might have been one that had been caught by a fisherman, thrown overboard and washed ashore.”

The things on the animal that look like legs are not actually legs, he said, adding that they’re alar spines that are used for mating. “They are used to help the male hang onto the female when they are mating,” he said.