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Camera angle behind mystery eel of Swansea

MYSTERY SOLVED: A pike eel photographed near the Swansea boat ramp sent ripples through social media. Picture: Robert Tyndall.GIANT eel, “messed up crocodile”or mysterylake monster?

According to the man who photographed it andtriggereda tidal waveof onlinecuriosity: none of the above.

Robert Tyndall’s photo of amysteriouscreature he found near the Swansea boat ramp confusedand slightly unnerved locals when it washed up on social media on Monday.

Ethan Tippa, who shareditonFacebook, typifiedthe general response.

“What the f— is it?”

The answer, experts soon confirmed, wasthat it wasa pike eel.

What was far from obvious from the photo, and what a bemused Mr Tyndall later revealed, was that the eel measured“about 1.4 metres”.

“I knew it was some kind of eel and it’sa big eel, but it definitely looks bigger,” Mr Tyndall, who found the eel whilefishinglast weekend, said.

“I think everyone enjoysusingtheir imagination. Judging by the comments, it was growing by the minute.”

Mr Tyndall, of Caves Beach,said he was amused byspeculationhis image wasPhotoshopped, because hedoesn’t“know anything about computers”.

To many, the anglemade the eelseemlonger than the species’ average maximumof 1.8 metres.

The nocturnalpike eelis commonbut surprisingly little is known about it.

Marine biologist JulianPepperell said the species isfrequently caught byfishers at night who get “the fright of their lives”when theyreel in a powerful, thrashing predator with a nasty bite.

“There are certainly people who are bitten by them in boats,” Dr Pepperellsaid.

“They have incredibly strong muscle and their teeth are geared towards inflicting slashing wounds.”

An old fishers’adagegoesthat a tinnie has room for a fishermanor a pike eel, but not both.

The photo of thelong, sharp-toothed and clearlydead creature has beenshared thousandsof times on social media, with manyidentifying it as the similar but flatter-bodied largehead hairtail.

The eel at Swansea was probably “relatively old”, Dr Pepperell said, and could have died from a net entanglement, been hit by a boat or died of old age.

A Department of Primary Industries spokesman also said it appearedto be a mature specimen.

“Judging by the size it is believed that the eel was mature and may have died from natural causes,” the spokesman said.

Pike eels are not poisonous to eat, and are frequentlysold in themarkets ofSoutheast Asia.

They have been known to hunt100 metres beneath the ocean’s surfacefor fish and crustaceans, and are more commonoffNSW than anywhere else in Australia.

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