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October 15, 2012

Mystery Eyeball Appears on Florida Beach

What fish did it come from? An eyeball the size of two hands washed ashore a South Florida beach last week.

After examining a single, softball-size eye found on a South Florida beach last week, researchers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) believe the specimen came from a swordfish. Genetic testing still must be done to confirm the identification.

The massive eye was recovered by a citizen at Pompano Beach on Wednesday, Oct. 10. FWC staff received the eye later that day and placed it on ice. 

“Experts on site and remotely have viewed and analyzed the eye, and based on its color, size and structure, along with the presence of bone around it, we believe the eye came from a swordfish,” said Joan Herrera, curator of collections at the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. “Based on straight-line cuts visible around the eye, we believe it was removed by a fisherman and discarded.”

Swordfish are commonly fished in the Florida Straits offshore of South Florida at this time of year, with impressive catches occurring regularlyA highly migratory fish, swordfish can be found from the surface to as deep as 2,000 feet. Swordfish in the Atlantic can reach a maximum size of over 1,100 pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Many fishermen abuzz at news and social media sites guessed that the eye came from a swordfish, with FWC's findings a legitimate confirmation. Still some posters joked that the eye was from of a cyclops, Cthulhu or other mythical monster.

Tell us what you would have done if you found the eyeball at your local beach in the comments section below.