Family baffled by 'alien' creature washed up on Aussie beach
A marine biologist confirmed to Yahoo News the creatures can be dangerous and warned beachgoers not to touch them.
A family enjoying a day out at a beach in Fremantle, WA, stumbled across a strange creature washed up on the sand.
The white, chunky body appeared to have no fins or flippers, but had a mouth and gills, according to the person who found it.
“Found this with the family at Bathers Beach today…” the anonymous poster wrote in a popular local Facebook group. "Any idea what it is?”
They also included a photo of people standing with their feet alongside the sea creature to get an indication of size, with the animal longer than both shoes.
Facebook viewers appeared as equally baffled, with some offering suggestions as to what it could be.
“Another reason to stay out of the ocean,” one said, as another joked it was an “alien baby”.
“A ray with wings cut off,” a person suggested.
Viral photo shows deadly threat in sand at Aussie beach: 'A true landmine'
“Cuttlefish?” another guessed.
“Whatever it is, it looks somewhat dehydrated and startled!” someone else said.
Among the comments were some educated guesses, pointing to a type of electric ray.
“Its a coffin ray (numb ray). Can zap you with a good shock apparently,” one person said, with another agreeing.
“Looks like a numb ray. It has dried out a bit - normally has wings that shape the whole ray in almost a figure 8 shape. The tail is dried out but it doesn’t have a long barb — normally just a short stumpy tail.”
Coffin ray can pack a punch, expert says
Lawrence Chlebeck, marine biologist from Humane Society International, confirmed to Yahoo News Australia the animal is likely a coffin ray, or numbfish, and they can deliver an electric shock if stood on or touched.
"They do have short little tails but lack the 'stingers' of their more famous cousins the stingrays. Instead, they can produce an electric shock, so best to leave them alone!" Mr Chlebeck said.
"The shock they deliver can be up to 50 amps, with peak of pulses sometimes exceeding 1 kilowatt. People should never intentionally touch, or attempt to grab a coffin ray, and if shocked, they should swim calmly to shore and seek help from surf lifesavers".
The 'stingray shuffle' used to avoid being shocked
If you're ever enjoying a dip in shallower water, there is a common trick to guard against a potential shock.
"The best way to avoid numbfish and stingray shocks or stings, is to shuffle your feet along the bottom instead of stepping. Doing the 'stingray shuffle' will disturb the rays enough to cause them to swim off, but not enough to sting or shock, if they were to be stepped on," he said.
Mr Chlebeck said the dead coffin ray found on Bathers Beach should no longer be dangerous, but still advised against touching any washed up sea life as some creatures – like bluebottles – can still deliver stings even after they've died.
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