No, it’s not a cartoon from “Finding Nemo.” And it didn’t steal dentures from a shipwreck.
This is the sheepshead, a saltwater specialty that, according to Southern anglers, is a pretty tasty dinner item.
The fish with human-like teeth jetting from a jaw shaped similarly to its namesake animal (the sheep) was the focus of a riddle posted by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday. SCDNR biologist Pam Corwin asked swimmers, fishmongers and Facebook fans to identify the strange black and white-striped creature known as “the convict fish.”
“I have human-like incisors and molars to help crush my food. I like shrimp and oysters just like you do!” Corwin posted.
Soon after, the fish’s freaky appearance reeled in the reactions.
Many on social media were able to quickly identify the fish since, according to The Edible Ocean, it’s a common saltwater species found along the East Coast — particularly in North Carolina and Florida. The site, which is run by a fishmonger, referred to the fish’s white, “firm, moist flesh” as being “delicious.”
Time to whip up some fish tacos!
“A shy but intelligent fish that hides in wrecks and rock piles and fights with a lot of heart. Great eating too!” one person wrote.
“My favorite fish to eat,” another commented, “but they kinda give me the creeps with their people teeth.”
“A tough fish to land for sure, but worth the taste! They love fiddler crabs,” another advised.
On Twitter, some have encountered sheepshead fish with “ugly” teeth and find them to be just plain “creepy.”
Some individuals allege the sheepshead’s chompers can do a lot more than chow down on shellfish.
“Those suckers bite and ask questions later! I had them bite through my 7mm wetsuit on a decompression stop in the GOM! Would have rather tangled with a Barracuda!,” one person wrote on Facebook.
Al Roker and Craig Melvin go ice fishing in Minneapolis (and kiss a fish!)
“This is a real life fish that lives in the ocean and I hate it. Never going in any type of water again. Not even baths,” one person posted.
“Looks like my husbands ex-wife,” wrote one more.
But even fish s rave about its “sweet, buttery and delicious” flavor, so it may be wise not to judge nature’s strange-looking creature (or anyone’s exes) too quickly.
We just hope Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t replace his Dory pancakes with sheepshead faces!