A rare 18 foot-long sea creature called an Oarfish was discovered off the California coast this past week. The carcass was discovered by a marine scientist who was enjoying a relaxing snorkeling trip off Santa Catalina island. And it is being called the discovery of a lifetime.
The carcass of the oarfish, wish is to believed to have died of natural causes, was first spotted by Marine Science Instructor, Jasmine Santana while she was participating in a leisurely snorkeling trip off of Catalina, on the Southern California coast. It was while she was touring in the vicinity of Toyon Bay in water about 30 feet deep that Santana first noticed the enormous eyes of the creature, said to be the size of silver dollars, partially buried in the sand. She says that she recognized it to be an oarfish but was overwhelmed by its size. Knowing that there was no way anyone would believe her unless they saw the creature themselves she decided to grab it and attempt to pull it from the water.
Santana’s initial fear that the serpent-like creature was still alive proved to be wrong. Once she confirmed that it was indeed a carcass she managed to drag the giant oarfish out of the ocean and onto the shore with the assistance of more than 20 people.
Her colleagues at the nearby Catalina Island Marine Institute are suitably impressed. Mark Waddington, senior captain of the Tole Mour, the institute’s training vessel, is saying that they have never seen a fish this size and that the last oarfish they discovered was only three feet long.
Just what is an oarfish? Those who have been fortunate to spot them have described them as mythical sea monsters. The largest oarfish was reported to be at least 56 feet long. The average one being approximately 30 feet long. They are usually found in ocean depths of at least 660 feet, making Santana’s discovery at 30 feet even more rare. Often they are washed ashore in the aftermath of a violent storm.
The most recent discoveries of the rare oarfish have been near the surface in the clear waters off the Caribbean. Their bodies are long and slim, their appearance is a shiny silver with dark red fins and often there is a large red plume atop their head. The somewhat shorter tail fin is described as a having long rays that are covered in spines. One very cool trait of the oarfish is that they can hold themselves up vertically in the water. Not surprisingly, the meat has been reported to be inedible. I wonder who lost that challenge.
Now it’s up to the research team at the University of California Santa Barbara to study the tissue samples that have been collected from the oarfish. One of the focuses of the study will be to determine the cause of death.
Unsure of what to do with the carcass of the rare sea creature, the team is said to be struggling to find space that is big enough to house the 18-foot sea serpent. It’s not like you can just clean out your freezer here. In all likelihood they will simply bury the carcass and allow the oarfish to compose naturally. Once that process has been completed the Institute plans to mount the skeleton for all to see.
The discovery of a rare sea creature found in U.S. waters is sure to have a lot of researchers and avid snorkelers scrambling to see if another oarfish is out there somewhere. Adventure awaits!