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Mysterious 'sea creature' found on Texas beach

Apparently, this species typically likes to stay burrowed. This time, it made an onshore appearance.

BOLIVAR PENINSULA, Texas — Last week, it was an alligator lounging on the beach. Back in January, we told you about the "hell naw" sea creature. Now, another weird find has turned up on a Bolivar beach. 

Patricia Ducote shared the photo snapped by her friend Brandy Artall on the Bolivar Beachcombers Facebook page.

Most of the posts are from beachcombers sharing pretty seashells or sea glass they found, but it's the really weird, sometimes creepy or downright scary stuff that often gets the most attention. 

Patricia asked followers if anyone knew what the creature is and some of the comments were pretty funny.

"That's a big pile of nope is what that is," Crystal wrote.

"It’s what nightmares are made of," Karolyn said.

"Alien remains," Georgina guessed.

"Death!!! RUN!!" Donda warned.

"Kracken?" Susan joked.

"All those teeth and bumps, so creepy!" Wendy wrote.

From Jill: "I don’t know what that is, but I can guarantee that my dog would roll in it."

"Makes me think of Animal on the Muppets," Patty said.

Others guessed that it's the gills and jaws of a large fish and it turned out they were right. 

We reached out to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and here's their answer. 

"Those are the gills and gill arches of a fish that someone probably caught and filleted. I cannot identify the species, but it is most likely a large sport fish.

The feathery parts are the gills, which are attached to the bony gill arches. The spikey bits in the top middle are the pharyngeal teeth." 

'Hell naw fish!'

Suzanne Choate was picking up shells on Crystal Beach along the Bolivar Peninsula in January when she found a creepy dead creature with sharp teeth. 

"I did find a strange fish," she posted on the Bolivar Beachcombers page. "Can someone tell me what it is?"

"That’s a hell naw fish if I’ve ever seen one!" Dana Bennett Peavey said.

"That’s a fish straight outta the depths from hell," Jennifer Raymundo joked.

Another woman called it, "my next nightmare."

Several commenters said it was an eel and it turned out they were right, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Mark Fisher, the TWPD Coastal Fisheries Science Director, told the San Antonio Express-News that he believes it's a snapper eel. The creature is “somewhat common” in Galveston Bay, Fisher said, but they usually stay burrowed so most people never see them.

According to the Smithsonian Institute, they're also called spoon-nosed eels and can grow up to nearly 6 feet long. Now, that's scary!

Gator on the beach

This time of year, you might see sea turtles or their nests. 

Volunteers on the lookout for the tiny endangered turtles last Tuesday spotted something much bigger: an alligator on the shore near the water! 

Julie Moore Nguyen snapped a photo and got video of the gator and she said it appeared to be about 6 feet long.

"He was moving really slow. I tried to get closer and he started walking away," Nguyen said. "The turtle patrol came by and said he looks like he might be sick."

Experts say it's unusual but not unheard of. Alligators are freshwater animals, but they can tolerate salt water for up to a few days, according to the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research.

"Unlike their relatives the crocodiles, alligators don't have salt glands and therefore can't survive full-time in salt water," the National Science Foundation said on its website.

Ecologists there used radio transmitters to track the gators and their movements.

"They move back and forth between marine and freshwater ecosystems to rebalance their salt levels -- and to feed," NSF explained.

In recent years, other gators have been spotted on Bolivar, near Galveston's north jetty and on McFadden and Jamaica Beach.

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