An 18-foot-long sea creature, now identified as a rare oarfish, was discovered off Catalina Island by a marine scientist Sunday. Jasmine Santana came face to face with the snake-like fish while snorkeling in the waters of Toyon Bay, according to KTLA 5 News on Oct. 14. The 18-foot-long sea serpent's discovery is being hailed as a very rare find, since they typically exist in very deep waters far from shore. Looking at the fish even conjures up images of the Loch Ness Monster.
Santana, a marine science instructor with the Catalina Island Marine Institute, came face-to-face with the half-dollar-sized eyes of the creature on Sunday afternoon.
Her first instinct was that she had to drag the thing to shore or nobody would believe her. The institute's news release said finding the elusive oarfish, especially of this size, is the "discovery of a lifetime".
The serpent-like fish was already dead when discovered, but was nearly completely intact. It appeared to have died from natural causes, according to the statement.
It took more than 15 people to drag the fish out of the water. Oarfish can reach lengths of over 50 feet and is what's called a deep-water pelagic fish, the longest bony fish in the world.
Because the fish dive to depths over 3,000 feet, little is known about them. Due to its immense size, the scientists will likely bury the carcass in the sand and let it decompose.
Then its 18-foot-long skeleton will be reassembled for display. The huge long-bodied oarfish are thought to be responsible for sea serpent legends throughout history.
Perhaps they should nick name it Nessie!