A mysterious sea creature has been found washed up on a UK beach – thousands of miles away from its usual habitat.

Zebra Moray eels are typically found off the coast of Africa where they can usually be found in rocky or coral reef on coastal shallow water up to 40 meters deep.

But one of the creatures washed up on a beach in Porthcawl, Wales, this week and nobody has any idea how it got there.

The unusual marine fish was found by a member of the public on Monday, September 28, who originally mistook it for a children's toy, WalesOnline reports.

After Claire Griffiths, 49, from Porthcawl posted pictures of the dead creature on her Facebook page it has caused quite the debate as to how it wound up in Wales.

Claire, whose partner has a degree in Zoology said they 'couldn't believe it' when they realised what the extraordinary animal was.

"I was walking my dog along the seafront and had my head down because it was raining and that's when I saw it in the shingles and thought 'what's that'," said Claire.

"I originally thought it was a children's toy so I put it on a nearby wall just in case somebody would come back for it and that's when I saw the face and the teeth.

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"I straight away thought 'oh my god this is an animal' and so rang my partner who has a degree in zoology. He came down to the beach and immediately said it was a Zebra Moray."

"He knew it wasn't native to this part of the world so we thought we had to tell somebody about it. We took it home and kept it in the shower so we could get an expert opinion."

The zebra moray is considered a medium-sized fish and can reach a maximum length of 150cm. However, the average size is closer to around 50cm.

After searching for marine experts online, Claire and her partner have been sending photos to a professor at Bangor University.

"The expert in Bangor has said that it's extraordinary to find a Zebra Moray in these waters. He said sunfish have been seen in Swansea but these types of animals aren't native to here," said Claire.

"After posting it online there's been lots of comments about where it's come from. Some people have been saying that it might have been bought as a pet and dumped, and others have said it might have traveled here by boat in a ballast tank.

"The expert in Bangor has said the ballast tank is unlikely as its skin would have lots of cuts – other than one or two scratches it was perfect.

"Apparently they can swim long distances but nobody is really sure how it got here.

"I couldn't believe it really. It's just so interesting, we knew straight away it was something different."

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