It’d be easy to think you were looking at some type of alien fish if you ever came across a hoodwinker sunfish washed up on shore and had never seen one. That’s exactly what locals were wondering when they spotted one washed up on a California beach.

This is the extraordinary tale of how a massive, strange-looking fish wound up on a beach on the other side of the world from where it lives.

The seven-foot fish washed up at UC Santa Barbara’s Coal Oil Point Reserve in Southern California last week. Researchers first thought it was a similar and more common species of sunfish — until someone posted photos on a nature site and experts weighed in.

What transpired after that surprised researchers from California to Australia and New Zealand.

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