SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A Facebook user posted a photo of an unusual creature that washed up on the beach in Surfside Beach last week. While it appeared to be a fish with legs, an expert from the Department of Natural Resources confirmed that it was not an evolutionary oddity, but rather a familiar amphibian.
Shae Thompson-Fanfan posted the image to the WMBF News Facebook page on September 3, saying she saw close to 100 of the "unusual fish with legs" washed up on the beach.
Another Facebook user explained what they likely were: "These are bull frog tad poles that were in late transition to turn into frogs. Only a days away from getting lungs and hopping away. Poor babies got washed out and died."
Will Dillman, a herpetologist with the SCDNR, confirmed that the animals were late-stage tadpoles that developed rear and front legs prior to completing metamorphosis and becoming small frogs.
"These are freshwater animals and cannot survive saline conditions," Dillman said in an email. "They likely washed out of a pond (maybe a stormwater pond) and into the ocean. Once in the salt water they died and washed up on the beach."