An 18ft long Oarfish has been found dead off the shore of southern California by Marine Biologist Jasmine Santana. The rarely seen Oarfish is said to be the likely culprit of many Sea Serpent legends from sailors and deep sea fishermen.
Oarfish have been reported to grow up to 15 meters in length, but the longest recorded and verified is 9 meters long. Rare fish such as these are almost impossible to catch using any sort of fishing tackle as they can dive up to more than 3,000 feet (914 meters) in depth. Because of this sightings are rare and these magnificent fish are largely unstudied.
Jasmine was snorkeling with colleagues when she spotted an unusual shimmer from the ocean floor. As she approached what looked to be a half-dollar sized eye starting at her from the sandy bottom, the uncertainty that the fish was dead dawned upon her, but slowly and cautiously making her way towards the prehistoric looking creature it was distinctly lifeless.
After taking a closer look Jasmine discovered it was indeed the carcass of an Oarfish, the first she has ever seen and a discovery of a lifetime for the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) employee.
She dragged the eel-like beast from the sea for more than 20 meters until fifteen other adults waded into the sea to help her bring it ashore.
Oarfish are a deep-water pelagic fish and the longest bony fish in the world, according to CIMI. This one measuring a staggering 5 meters in length. Mark Waddington, senior captain of the Tole Mour, CIMI’s sail training ship, said “We’ve never seen a fish this big! The last Oarfish we saw at CIMI was just three feet long”.
The fate of the carcass is still being decided, but Waddington would prefer the fish to be burred in sand until it decomposes and the skeleton cleaned naturally before being reconstructed for display. The fish apparently died of natural causes.