The giant of the seas is usually found on the other side of the world, but last week it was found stranded at UC Santa Barbara's Coal Oil Point Reserve.
The fish is so rarely seen that it took researchers in California, Australia and New Zealand to weigh in and identify the strange-looking creature..
“When the clear images appeared, I thought there was no doubt. This is totally a hoax," marine scientist Marianne Nyegaard told CNN. She couldn't believe it. I nearly fell off my chair.
Nyegaard discovered the species in 2017 and spent years searching for it before finally finding and naming it.
The fish that appear in Southern California are exceptionally rare. So far, all the fish have been found in the southern hemisphere, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Chile.
'We know it has a temperate distribution around here and off the coast of Chile, but then how did it cross the equator and show up for you? It's intriguing what made this fish cross the equator," says Nyegaard.
“The fish had gone unnoticed because no one really noticed that it looked different. There is a long history of confusion about species in the sunfish family," Nyegaard said. This fish had managed to stay out of sight and out of everyone's attention. It had been taken for a mola mola (an ocean sunfish), so it was fooling us all."