Rare Oarfish Washes Ashore In Catalina: Second In Two Years

An extremely rare oarfish, a creature believed to be responsible for sea serpent stories of the past, was found along a beach at Santa Catalina Island, the second time in two years that one of the animals has been discovered there.

The oarfish was found floating near the west end of the island, according to Grind TV, the same spot where previous discoveries of oarfish have been made. Measuring 17-feet-long, the oarfish was discovered by a harbor patrolman, and was partially degraded, having been eaten by seagulls. A compliment of 16 people were required to pull the oarfish from the water and on to shore, including Annie MacAulay, a marine scientist who works on the island with an environmental education non-profit. In 20 years of working with the group that she founded, Mountain & Sea Adventures, MacAuley noted that the oarfish was only the second specimen she has ever seen.

Oarfish are exceedingly rare animals which live at depths of between 700 to 3,000 feet, according to the Orange County Register. Whenever an oarfish is observed at the surface, the animal is most often either dead or in the process of dying, and as such, little of their behavior is understood. Catalina is one of the few places in the world where oarfish have been found multiple times, though scientists are unsure why. Researchers also do not understand why some oarfish rise to the surface in their time of dying.

The last oarfish discovered in Catalina turned up in 2013, when a snorkeler stumbled upon one of the animals near Avalon. That fish measured 18-feet-long, and was found in Toyon Bay. Just five days later, another oarfish specimen, measuring 14-feet-long and carrying hundreds of thousands of eggs, washed ashore in nearby Oceanside.

While Catalina is one of the rare places where multiple oarfish have been found, they do turn up in other localities as well. Earlier this year, an oarfish was found on a beach in New Zealand, though it quickly disappeared, as the Inquisitr previously reported.

Oarfish have rarely been filmed or otherwise observed alive in the wild. In 1808, a 56-foot-long serpent washed up in Scotland, in an incident which may represent the modern discovery of the species. The fish can grow as long as 50 feet in some rare instances, meaning the Scottish animal may have been one of the first oarfish ever observed outside of sea serpent lore.

[Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images]

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