Those who saw the creature were puzzled by its appearance, noting that it resembled both an eel and a crocodile. Robert Tyndall caught a pic of the creature that went viral on the Internet, leading some to think a monster had washed ashore down under. The creature was actually only about 4 1/2 feet in length.
Marine biologist Dr. Julian Pepperell states that the animal is almost certainly a pike eel, a species found throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean and sometimes reported in the coastal waters of New South Wales, eastern Australia. Pike eels can grow up to about 6 feet in length.
Pepperell told the Newcastle Herald:
"I think it's definitely a pike eel. The head is very indicative of that species. It's hard from the photo to get an idea of the scale."
Photographer Tyndall himself told the Herald, "I think everyone enjoys using their imagination. Judging by the comments, it was growing by the minute."
Pike eels are actually know to be quite dangerous, with a powerful thrashing ability and a nasty bite.
"There are certainly people who are bitten by them in boats. Says Pepperell. They have incredibly strong muscle and their teeth are geared towards inflicting slashing wounds."
Normally, the fish is found around the southeastern and western margins of Australia's continental shelf in waters ranging from 800-1600 feet deep. They can grow up to about 15 inches in length and are known to use their large amount of teeth to thoroughly chew their prey.
The surfacing of the rarely seen animals is an odd replay since similar things happened in the same region in 2015.
Just last January, Australians in New South Wales pulled up a rarely seen Goblin shark, and another fisherman in the Victoria area caught a rare frilled shark, one of only two species still alive with origins that date back 80 million years.
While they aren't the mythical sea monsters that some imagine, it's unusual to see such creatures of the deep surfacing and it's a reminder that there is still much about deep ocean life that we don't know.