Posted: 6:10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013
By Rick Couri
The creature was discovered by a staff member from the Catalina Island Marine Institute.
Jasmine Santana was snorkeling when something shiny caught her eye. It was the eye of an 18 foot long oarfish lying on the bottom of Toyon Bay off Catalina Island.
The sea beast was dead and it took Santana several minutes to wrestle the big fish from the 30 feet of water it was in and up toward the shore.
"We've never seen a fish this big," the captain of CIMI's training ship said.
Oarfish are deep water pelagic and spend most of their life in water more than 3,000 feet deep and seeing one is both rare and at times, frightening.
It was determined that the fish died of natural causes.
Scientists took tissue samples and will send them to by biologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
How the remainder of the animal will be dealt with is interesting.
The body will simply be buried in the sand until all the flesh rots away. It will then be carefully dig up, and the skeleton will be reconstituted and put on display.
While 18 feet sounds big, Oarfish can actually grow to more than 50 feet and are thought to be the reason for many “sea serpent” sightings throughout history.
On a personal note, I have been snorkeling and diving over 100 times around Catalina Island including at Toyon Bay.
The only significance that holds is how jealous I am for not being there when the discovery was made.