UGLY: A strange fish found by Bradley Sampson in Cape Town last week. The fish is a type of clingfish, Chorisochismus dentex.

Simone Alicea

ENJOYING the sealife can be the best part of a walk on the beach. Unless the sealife looks like it came from a horror film.

While walking with friends on Sea Point beach, a man found a very odd-looking fish on Thursday.

“I was walking with two friends on the beach at night and saw this thing under seaweed,” Bradley Sampson said in an e-mail to the Cape Times.

“I saw it had teeth, so we pulled it out and it was the weirdest thing ever. A fat red fish with big sharp teeth that looked out of proportion to its body size.”

Described as being 30cm long, the fish had a very fat head and a skinny tail.

Sampson could not be reached for more details, but the Cape Times sent the photos to Roger Bills, senior aquatic biologist at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB). He said it could be a type of clingfish, “possibly Chorisochismus dentex. Seeing the underneath of the fish would help, but the large head and teeth are also helpful.”

Charles Griffiths, emeritus professor at the UCT Marine Research Institute, confirmed that the odd find was a giant clingfish.

“They are not very strong swimmers and quite often wash up,” Griffiths said.

Chorisochismus dentex is also known as a rocksucker. It is a relatively large species of clingfish that can be found commonly in shallow waters along the Atlantic coast of Africa from Namibia to South Africa.

This is the not the first time a beachgoer has been surprised by an ugly fish. Leandra Visser posted photos of a similar-looking fish which were picked up by Die Burger last week. Visser had found the fish in De Kelders. It was smaller than the one Sampson found, but also had large teeth and a strangely-shaped body.

Griffiths also commented on that fish and told Die Burger that it could be a Chorisochismus dentex that had dried out.

SAIAB chief scientist Alan Whitfield told Die Burger that he doubted it was even a fish given a lack of fins and the shape of the fish. He said he could only definitively say what it was if he had the chance to perform certain tests.

Visser did not preserve the specimen, so no tests were conducted.

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