A rare sea creature, an oarfish, was found on Catalina Island. The 15-foot oarfish is the second such ocean creature to wash ashore in the past two years. It was found near the west side of the island, the same spot where previous discoveries of the creature occurred.
Oarfish were once called sea serpents by sailors. The rare sea creature typically spends its time in deep ocean waters well below the surface. In Japan, some believe the oarfish can predict earthquakes.
“I’ve lived on the island for over 20 years, and I’m on the water all the time and I’ve never seen one,” Annie MacAulay, founder of the Mountain and Sea Adventures non-profit organization, said after rushing to the west side of island to see the rare oarfish. “The oarfish are really deep fish … usually they come up only if they are sick or if they are dying. Because they’re such deep water fish they’re so rare for us to have a sighting of them, and there’s hardly been any sighting historically of them alive.”
The oarfish, which had been eaten upon by seagulls and was partially degraded, was discovered by a harbor patrolman. It took 16 adults to pull the oarfish completely out of the water and onto the shore. The last time an oarfish was seen in the area was in October of 2013 on Catalina Island. That oarfish was an 18-foot specimen and was seen near the shore.
The carcass from the 2013 fish was reportedly in high demand from researchers around the world, because little is known about the rare sea creature.
Oarfish belong to Regalecidae family and are reportedly found in all temperate to tropical oceans. The oarfish family is believed to contain four species in two genera. The giant oarfish, Regalecus glesne, is the longest bony fish alive and grows to up to 36 feet long. It was once thought that the oarfish “rowed” itself through the water with its pelvic fins. Even though the larger variety of oarfish are often considered a game fish, they are only fished commercially to a small extent and are rarely caught alive. The rare sea creatures are not highly sought after for consumption, due to the “gelatinous consistency” of their flesh.
— CNN (@CNN) June 3, 2015
— 89.3 KPCC (@KPCC) June 3, 2015
— Catalina Conservancy (@CIConservancy) June 2, 2015
[Image via: Shutterstock]