Rare Fish Found: Oarfish Washes Ashore On Catalina Island

A rare fish found washed ashore on Catalina Island nearly broke the internet this week. The oarfish found was so long that it spanned the length of three people. Marine experts estimate the length of the legendary sea serpent to be between 14 and 17 feet long.

The oarfish found earlier this week is the second such of the sea creature along Catalina Island in the past two years. The most rare fish found on the island was discovered in the same western region of beach as the creature previously just a few years ago. The oarfish found in October of 2013 was an 18-foot long sea serpent. 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.

“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 rare fish had been eaten upon by seagulls and was partially degraded when is was found by a harbor patrolman. It took 16 adults to pull the oarfish completely ashore. Oarfish were once deemed sea serpents by sailors. The rare fish typically spends its time in deep below the surface in the ocean. In Japan, some believe the oarfish can predict earthquakes.

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 fish are not highly sought after for consumption, due to the “gelatinous consistency” of their flesh.

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.

[Image via: Shutterstock.com]

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