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

10 hours ago in Local

Court Upholds TV Pitchman Kevin Trudeau’s 10-Year Sentence

wtax 011015

An appeals court in Chicago has upheld a 10-year prison term for best-selling author Kevin Trudeau.

10 hours ago in Local

Hung Jury Declared in Trial of Former Illinois Prosecutor

gavel2

Judge Bob Hardwick declared a mistrial Friday evening in the trial of Curtis Lovelace.

10 hours ago in Local

Amtrak, Illinois Reach Deal to Maintain Instate Service

amtrak

The deal announced Friday will maintain service through the end of the fiscal year on June 30 at a cost of $38.3 million to the state. The department paid $42 million the previous fiscal year.

21 hours ago in Local

State Museum to Reopen with Governor’s Amendatory Veto

Illinois State Museum

Rauner has amendatorily vetoed a bill lawmakers approved a few months ago that would reopen the museum and all its satellite locations.

21 hours ago in Local

Woman Convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter of Child Sentenced

Cammie Kelly

Cammie Kelly is going to prison for four years.