A giant oarfish – the greatly elongated but rarely seen sea creature – was discovered off the Southern California coast Sunday by a snorkeling marine science instructor, reports The Associated Press via Fox News on Oct. 15. The oarfish, which is the longest boney fish in the world, measured a whopping 18 feet and required over a dozen helpers to drag the massive carcass out of the ocean.
Jasmine Santana, an instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI), was about two dozen miles out from the coast and was snorkeling near Toyon Bay at Santa Catalina Island, when she chanced upon what will likely be the science discovery of her lifetime.
The oarfish’s silvery carcass was shimmering about 30 feet below the surface. Santana dove down and grabbed the carcass and was able to drag it a number of meters before staffers waded in to help her pick it up and bring it ashore.
Oarfish can gown up to 50 feet in length, but because they generally live in waters thousands of feet deep, they are rarely seen alive and are not frequently studied.
The CIMI team members were astonished at Santana’s find.
“We've never seen a fish this big,” said Mark Waddington, senior captain of one of CIMIs boats. “The last oarfish we saw was three feet long.” Waddington said Santana told him she needed to drag the oarfish ashore so that everyone believed her when she said how long the fish was.
“It took 15 or 20 of us to pick it up,” said Jeff Chace, a program director with CIMI.
What will researchers do with the giant oarfish?
“The carcass was on display Tuesday for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students studying at CIMI. It will be buried in the sand until it decomposes and then its skeleton will be reconstituted for display,” says Fox News.