News

Rare 18-foot fish found off coast of California

Rare 18-foot fish found off coast of California

BIG FISH: An 18-foot long Oarfish was found off the coast of California. Photo: Reuters

By Tim Gaynor

(Reuters) – A California marine instructor’s leisurely weekend snorkel turned into the discovery of a lifetime when she found the carcass of a massive, eel-like creature of a species thought to have inspired legends of giant sea serpents.

Catalina Island Marine Institute instructor Jasmine Santana spotted the 18-foot oarfish, which is as thick as a man’s torso, while snorkeling in clear waters off the island’s coast on Sunday afternoon, the institute said.

The creatures are found in all temperate to tropical waters, but because they dive to depths of 3,000 feet, they are rarely seen and remain largely unstudied. Little is known about their behavior, the nonprofit educational institute said.

“Jasmine Santana was shocked to see (a) half-dollar sized eye staring at her from the sandy bottom,” the institute said in a statement. “Her first reaction was to approach with caution, until she realized that it was dead.”

Oarfish have a pug face, a crest running the length of their bodies and a skeleton of bone rather than cartilage common to fish species like sharks. They can grow up to a length of 56 feet. Because of their strange appearance, they are believed to have inspired legends of giant sea serpents.

It took a group of 15 adults to pull the fish’s massive carcass up the beach to a better viewing area, the institute said. Its longest serving employee, Mark Johnson, could not believe his eyes. “In 32 years here,” he said. “I have never seen anything like this!”

The body of the fish appeared almost perfectly intact. The institute sent tissue samples and video footage to a University of California at Santa Barbara fish expert, and is awaiting a final determination on the species.

A spokesman for Guided Discoveries, the educational nonprofit that operates programs on Catalina Island, said the sea creature’s skeleton will likely be put on display for visitors.

Recent Headlines

in Viral Videos

Famous album covers come alive

18-overlay1

No, your eyes aren't tricking you. The album covers in Roy Kafri's new music video ARE singing along.

in Music

Pete Wentz joins Cobra Starship

wentz

The Fall Out Boy star has joined Cobra Starship as a replacement for departing bassist Alex Suarez.

in Weird

Store clerk gives would-be robber a stinging surprise

22-overlay

A western Pennsylvania woman tells a would-be criminal to bug off!

in Music

How Joe Perry finally got his prized guitar back

slash

Strapped for cash the Aerosmith star sold his prized 1959 Les Paul guitar and it somehow ended up in Slash's hands.

in Music

WATCH: Primus sends fans on hunt for lifetime tickets

25-overlay2

The band is offering fans lifetime passes to their gigs if they find a golden ticket inside the vinyl version of their new album.