A giant Oarfish turned up on the shore of the Southern California coast on Sunday. These fish live in deep water and are rarely seen. This particular specimen measure 18 feet long and weighed over 400 pounds
It was found by a scuba instructor, Jasmine Santana who pulled the dead fish to shore so it could be better observed. She was able to swim with the carcass for several feet but it quickly became heavy and she realized she needed help. Luckily, there were several people nearby to help her get it on the shore.
“I was first a little scared,” said Santana, who has been working for Catalina Island Marine Institute since January. “But when I realized it was an oarfish, I knew it was harmless.”
The giant oarfish was first discovered in 1772 by Norwegian biologist Peter Ascanius. The animals are so elusive that little is known about them. They are believed to have inspired storied of sea monsters because of their strange appearance.
“It is believed that oarfish dive over 3,000 feet deep, which leaves them largely unstudied. and little is known about their behavior or population,” said CIMI, a non-profit marine science education group.
The longest oarfish on record was 26 feet long, but marine biologists believe they can grow as long as 50 feet and weight as much as 600 pounds. They can live at depths between 656 feet and 3,280 feet.
How the recently discovered oarfish carcass will be dealt with is still being decided. It will likely be studied and displayed and used for educational purposes.
‘I am pushing to bury it and wait for it to be naturally cleaned so that we can then take the skeleton and articulate it and have it on display,’ said Mark Waddington, the senior captain of CIMI’s sailing school vessel the “Tole Mour”. “That is what I hope will happen.”
Image from Wikimedia Commons.