News

Rare 18-foot fish found off coast of California

Rare 18-foot fish found off coast of California

BIG FISH: An 18-foot long Oarfish was found off the coast of California. Photo: Reuters

By Tim Gaynor

(Reuters) – A California marine instructor’s leisurely weekend snorkel turned into the discovery of a lifetime when she found the carcass of a massive, eel-like creature of a species thought to have inspired legends of giant sea serpents.

Catalina Island Marine Institute instructor Jasmine Santana spotted the 18-foot oarfish, which is as thick as a man’s torso, while snorkeling in clear waters off the island’s coast on Sunday afternoon, the institute said.

The creatures are found in all temperate to tropical waters, but because they dive to depths of 3,000 feet, they are rarely seen and remain largely unstudied. Little is known about their behavior, the nonprofit educational institute said.

“Jasmine Santana was shocked to see (a) half-dollar sized eye staring at her from the sandy bottom,” the institute said in a statement. “Her first reaction was to approach with caution, until she realized that it was dead.”

Oarfish have a pug face, a crest running the length of their bodies and a skeleton of bone rather than cartilage common to fish species like sharks. They can grow up to a length of 56 feet. Because of their strange appearance, they are believed to have inspired legends of giant sea serpents.

It took a group of 15 adults to pull the fish’s massive carcass up the beach to a better viewing area, the institute said. Its longest serving employee, Mark Johnson, could not believe his eyes. “In 32 years here,” he said. “I have never seen anything like this!”

The body of the fish appeared almost perfectly intact. The institute sent tissue samples and video footage to a University of California at Santa Barbara fish expert, and is awaiting a final determination on the species.

A spokesman for Guided Discoveries, the educational nonprofit that operates programs on Catalina Island, said the sea creature’s skeleton will likely be put on display for visitors.

Recent Headlines

5 hours ago in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Feb. 12

hammer

A look back at some of Hollywood's most memorable moments.

17 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘How To Be Single’ feels the same while trying too hard to be different

22-overlay-9

"How to Be Single" makes a valiant attempt to send up rom-com clichés but it borrows so much from other, better movies that you start to wonder if the film’s title should be "How to Commit Larceny."

18 hours ago in Music

Springsteen promises to show his mind in autobiography

springsteen

Springsteen, 66, has been working on the autobiography, called "Born to Run," for seven years.

19 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Star Wars’ producers face charges in Harrison Ford’s on-set accident

18-overlay-7

The "Indiana Jones" star broke his leg when the door of the Millennium Falcon fell on him during filming in 2014.

19 hours ago in Lifestyle

More Americans turning to Internet to play Cupid

tinderreuters

Just in time for Valentine's Day, a survey shows that more Americans are looking for love through online dating, with more than four times as many young adults using mobile apps than in 2013.