A marine science instructor has made what’s being called the discovery of a lifetime: She found an 18-foot-long oarfish Sunday in Toyon Bay on Catalina Island.
While snorkeling, Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute discovered the obscure fish, which had evidently died of natural causes. When she reached the bottom of the bay, she spotted a silver creature with eyes the size of half-dollars.
Santana’s colleagues saw her struggling to move the dead animal and came to her aid, ultimately discovering that it would take 15 people to move the animal to the beach.
Mark Johnson, a longtime CIMI staffer, said in a statement that he’d yet to witness such a sight during his tenure at the institute.
“In 32 years here, I have never seen anything like this,” he said.
Nice. A sample of the specimen will be studied and it is hoped that that skeleton can be preserved and exhbited by the Institute which hosts about 15,000 students a year in school-organized trips and summer camps relating to marine biology and snorkeling.
The animals are not too uncommon but it is rare to find them because their habitat is the deep sea.
[A]n aura of mystery still shrouds the oarfish, but it’s nothing when compared with its reputation centuries ago.
“People always wondered if old-time sailors saw this unusual animal in the ocean and wondered if it was some kind of sea serpent,” Chace said.
“It used to scare people,” Santana added. “It is believed that oarfish is what the (sea serpent) stories were based off because of its long tapered body.”
Far from the ferocious monsters of legend, the oarfish has a that physiology suggests it is relatively harmless, Santana explained. It does not have a sharp, big jaw like many other ocean predators, but scientists simply do not know enough about it … yet.
The oarfish undulates like a snake, horizontally, while many sea serpent reports note up and down movement known from mammals. So while this is a strange looking critter, it can’t be the sole source of sea serpent legends.
We’ve had several stories about serpent like fish found. They always cause a stir. Here is a video of a live oarfish – a rare find indeed.