Five-meter sea creature found off California coast

Oct 15, 2013 by Christopher Weber
This photo released courtesy of the Catalina Island Marine Institute taken on Sunday Oct. 13, 2013 shows the crew of sailing school vessel Tole Mour and Catalina Island Marine Institute instructors holding an 18-foot-long oarfish that was found in the waters of Toyon Bay on Santa Catalina Island, Calif. A marine science instructor snorkeling off the Southern California coast spotted the silvery carcass of the 18-foot-long, serpent-like oarfish. (AP Photo/Catalina Island Marine Institute )

A marine science instructor snorkeling off the Southern California coast spotted something out of a fantasy novel: the silvery carcass of an 18-foot-long (5-meter-long), serpent-like oarfish.

Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute needed more than 15 helpers to drag the giant creature to shore on Sunday.

Staffers at the institute are calling it the discovery of a lifetime.

"We've never seen a fish this big," said Mark Waddington, senior captain of the Tole Mour, CIMI's sail training ship. "The last oarfish we saw was three long."

Because oarfish dive more than 3,000 feet (914 meters) deep, sightings of the creatures are rare and they are largely unstudied, according to CIMI.

The obscure fish apparently died of natural causes. Tissue samples and video footage were sent to be studied by biologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Santana spotted something shimmering about 30 feet (9 meters) deep while snorkeling during a staff trip in Toyon Bay at Santa Catalina Island.

"She said, 'I have to drag this thing out of here or nobody will believe me,'" Waddington said.

After she dragged the carcass by the tail for more than 75 feet (23 meters), staffers waded in and helped her bring it to shore.

The carcass was on display Tuesday for students studying at CIMI. It will be buried in the sand until it decomposes and then its skeleton will be reconstituted for display, Waddington said.

The , which can grow to more than 50 feet (15 meters), is a deep-water pelagic fish—the longest bony in the world, according to CIMI.

They are likely responsible for sea serpent legends throughout history.

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Tri-ring
5 / 5 (2) Oct 15, 2013
In Japan they are called "Ryugu no Tsukai(Messenger of the underwater palace)". They are often caught before an earthquake when seismic disruption disturbs their natural habitat and they come up due to panic.
Sinister1811
2.2 / 5 (6) Oct 15, 2013
Yeah, that's just an oarfish. They live at the depths of the ocean and are rarely ever seen by anyone.
QuixoteJ
3 / 5 (2) Oct 16, 2013
The sturgeon explanation for Loch Ness has quickly become second to oarfish in my mind!