Oarfish: Second Giant Washes Up in California as Puzzle Grows

Image: Oarfish: Second Giant Washes Up in California as Puzzle Grows

Monday, 21 Oct 2013 08:50 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Oarfish, the mysterious creatures that normally live some 3,000 feet below the seas and believed to be the source of ancient tales of sea serpents, have washed up on the Southern California's shores twice within a week.

On Friday, the second oarfish washed ashore in Oceanside, between Los Angeles and San Diego, according to KGTV. The fish was measured at 13-1/2 feet, a Scripps Research Institute researcher told the television station.

Oarfish can grow up to more than 50 feet and is the largest bony fish in the world, according to the Los Angeles Times. An 18-foot-long oarfish carcass appeared on a beach off Catalina Island on Oct. 13, the Times reported.

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A snorkeler late Friday afternoon found the latest oarfish on the southern jetty at Oceanside Harbor. The snorkeler wrestled the fish, which was dead, to shore.

"It's so rare to find in Southern California, especially in surface water," Suzanne Kohin, of the National Marine Fisheries Service, told KGTV. "They thought it was a very rare event the first time, so these two events that we heard of in the last few weeks are the only ones I've ever heard of."

Oceanside police Officer Mark Bussey told the San Diego Union Tribune that one caller told authorities he thought it was a whale. Bussey said to the newspaper about 50 to 75 gathered as they contacted researchers.

KTLAreported that officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration removed the snake-like fish for possible study.

"It is believed that oarfish dive over 3,000 feet deep, which leaves them largely unstudied, and little is known about their behavior or population," Mark Waddington, of the Catalina Island Marine Institute, told CNN.

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Waddington said that while it appears the fish died naturally, it is not clear why both popped up in shallow water. He said that tissue and other samples from one of the oarfish have been sent to marine scientists, including Dr. Milton Love, a fish expert from University of California at Santa Barbara, to study the fish DNA and diet habits.

Waddington said the institute will keep the fish's skeleton for educational purposes.

Related stories:

Horned 'Sea Monster' or Oarfish? Mystery Washes Up on Beach

Oarfish, Giant Deep-Sea Creature, Caught on Video

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