Astoria, OR (AP) — A Pacific snake eel, a species rarely seen in waters as far north as Oregon, was found in the sand near Astoria over the weekend.
Around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, a man happened on the creature, which appeared to be in distress, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. He called the Seaside Aquarium to report what he thought was a sea snake. The aquarium is closed because of coronavirus social distancing protocols, but staff were there to care for the animals.
“As soon as he said, sea snake we knew that it was most likely a Pacific Snake Eel,” the aquarium said in a Facebook post.
Pacific snake eels generally inhabit the waters between Peru and northern California, but rarely travel as far north as Oregon. The animals typically grow to around 3 feet in length. Sunday’s discovery was only the third time this particular species of eel has been found on an Oregon beach, according to the aquarium.
Last year beach visitors discovered a Pacific snake eel buried in the sand in Long Beach, Washington.
Staff from the aquarium responded, but said the eel was too lethargic to put back in the ocean so the animal was brought it back to the aquarium where it was put in an isolation tank.
“Over the next few days we will begin to warm the water to try to make him more comfortable,” the aquarium said.