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

in Local

State Lawmaker: IDOT Not the Only Agency Whose Hiring Process May be Suspect

idot

Federal monitor to check agency on hiring practices

in Local

Rauner Denies Involvement in Springfield Reporter’s Resignation

Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate businessman Bruce Rauner participates in a Republican gubernatorial candidate debate Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. The four Republican gubernatorial candidates said that they’ll be willing to work with unions if elected but differed on how to approach the relationship during a downstate debate that largely focused on pension reform, taxes and just briefly on personal issues that have dogged some of the candidates.

Bruce Rauner says his fingerprints are not on the Chicago Sun-Times.

in Local

Raymond Cub Scouts Still Improving

medical

Police say the condition of three Cub Scouts is improving after they were injured in a chemical explosion.

in Local

Springfield Unemployment Numbers Show Decline

jobs

Unemployment dropped in all of Illinois' metro areas in September

in Election 2014, Local

Durbin: Sun-Times Reporter’s Departure “Worrisome”

Republican state Sen., Jim Oberweis, right, offers to give Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, more paper after Durbin joked about only getting one page of paper for notes before their first of two televised debates prior to the Nov. 4 election Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Chicago. Oberweis, a dairy entrepreneur from Sugar Grove, has acknowledged it will take a big GOP year to unseat Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate who's represented Illinois on Capitol Hill for more than three decades.

Bruce Rauner’s campaign is being accused of bullying the Chicago Sun-Times, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says that should be a troubling sign to voters.