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Giant Oarfish: California Teacher Discovers 18-Foot Creature Carcass

Image: Giant Oarfish: California Teacher Discovers 18-Foot Creature Carcass

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 03:57 PM

By Morgan Chilson

An 18-foot giant oarfish carcass found by a California marine science teacher is the "discovery of a lifetime," her school said. Oarfish are mysterious deep-sea creatures that may be responsible for "sea monster" myths.

Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute was snorkeling this weekend in Tonyon Bay off Southern California when she came face to face with the rare fish. It eventually took 15 people to carry it ashore, KTLA TV said.

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Oarfish, which can grow to an extraordinary 50 feet long, live deep in the ocean and are rarely seen.

“We’ve never seen a fish this big,” Mark Waddington, of CIMI, told The Associated Press. “The last oarfish we saw was three feet long.”

Santana found the fish floating about 30 feet below the water's surface and dragged it by herself before people saw her and ran to help. It was on display at CIMI for students to see, and then Waddington told the AP it will be buried in sand to decompose. After that, the Institute will reconstruct the skeleton and put it on display.

Because of its tremendous size, many believe the oarfish are at the root of sea serpent legends that have persisted for centuries. They are also called ribbon fish, which is a perfect description of their sinuous bodies moving through the water.

A gigantic sea creature believed to be an oarfish washed up on the beach in Spain in August, and marine biologists at Louisana State University announced earlier this year that they actually caught on camera a live oarfish swimming. It was the first taped sighting of the fish, which lives as deeply as 3,000 feet.

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