Mystery 'mouth' washes ashore near Port Macquarie

EARLIER this week we published a photo of what appeared to be a large ring of teeth washed up at Lake Cathie after storms and large swells.

The photos caused quite a stir with emails and feedback on social media as to what it could be and based on the feedback so far, we’re going with the gill rakers of a mullaway.

Gill rakers are bony or cartilaginous projections which point forward and inward from the gill arches. They aid in the fish's feeding.

“Not sure what others are thinking but I’m 100 per cent sure it’s a large fish’s gill rakers,” Andrew Martin from Laurieton said.  

Alar Hordern agreed emailing:

“I believe it may be the gill rakers from a mulloway (jewfish). I have caught many and the gill rakers look just like this – they are just down the throat.”

What a whopper: Photo courtesy of South Coast Register.  Mullaway can grow as big as 2 metres.

What a whopper: Photo courtesy of South Coast Register. Mullaway can grow as big as 2 metres.

Mulloway can potentially exceed 2 metres in length and 70 kilograms in weight, but are more common at weights up to 30 kilograms. 

There were some other unusual suggestions:

“I can’t say for sure but it looks like the jaw of a whale with maybe a whale tongue in the middle,” said Stephen Nipperess.

This theory was backed up by Tracey Butler on the Camden Haven Courier’s Facebook page:

Our Twitter followers also had a number of theories with one tweet saying: ‘It looks like plant matter’.

And these suggestions from the Manning River Times and Port Macquarie Facebook pages:

MYSTERY MOUTH WASHES UP:

A PORT Macquarie man has photographed a mystery mass (that looks like a mouth) washed up after recent storms and huge swells.

It was the smell that lead him to it at Lake Cathie and he took a few photos.

A variety of experts have been asked for their opinion but none seem to know what it could be.

Even when asked to hazard a guess the response is the same.

Dave Harasti, Marine Scientist (Marine Ecosystems Research) with Fisheries NSW, Department of Industry could only say:

“Sorry, but I have no idea.”

Brian Hughes, Estuary and Marine Officer with the Hunter Local Land Services also has no idea what it could be.

The man who took the photos sent them to the Museum of Sydney and they have not been able to enlighten him as to what it could be.

One likely scenario is that the storms and strong seas ‘unearthed’ the normally deep sea creature.

A similar mystery played out further south at Swansea when a “messed up crocodile” was photographed at the boat ramp there.

Reporting on the incident at the time the Newcastle Herald described the tidal wave of online curiosity that resulted from the photo.

Ethan Tippa, who shared it on Facebook, typified the general response.

“What the f--- is it?”

The Swansea sea monster was revealed as a pike eel in February.

The Swansea sea monster was revealed as a pike eel in February.

The answer, experts soon confirmed, was that it was a pike eel.

If you think you know what our Lake Cathie ‘mystery mouth’ is email janine.watson@fairfaxmedia.com.au