Rare Oarfish Found In California: Fishing Boat Caught Sea Serpent Alive Near Catalina Island [Photo]

A rare oarfish found in California was caught for the very first time while fishing with rod and reel. The sea serpent sighting occurred near Santa Catalina Island, making it the third oarfish sighting within the last two years.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, some scientists actually believe an oarfish sighting can be used for earthquake predictions.

The fishing vessel the Fortune was not intending to go oarfish fishing when they were off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, but that is exactly what happened. Fortune’s captain, Bruce Smith, says one of the passengers unknowingly caught an oarfish and brought it to the surface.

“Yeah, we caught an oarfish today,” said Smith. “It was very surprising, a once in a lifetime thing to even see one.”

How the rare oarfish found its way to the surface is uncertain. Oarfish typically live at depths approaching 1,000 meters and they are rarely seen near the surface. Usually, most oarfish found by the public are already dead by time they are discovered. Sighting of an oarfish still alive are very rare, which may have given rise to myths about sea serpents and sea dragons.

Unfortunately, the fishing boat found the oarfish at a depth of 30 feet. Oarfish, or Regalecus glesne, have difficulty living in shallow waters due to the turbulence of the currents. The boat captain noted that the oarfish may have been alive but they thought it was dying. A crew member tried to gaff the oarfish in order to bring it on board their fishing boat, but the soft flesh began to tear and they gave up on the effort.

Captain Smith estimates that the oarfish was about 20 feet in length. As a comparison, the first California oarfish found within the last two years measured only 14 feet. The second oarfish found by a marine instructor snorkeling off Santa Catalina Island was measured at a mere 18 feet long. So, while their oarfish fishing trip did not bring home their catch, it still holds a record.

These sea monsters can grow to be the width of a human torso, and the largest oarfish ever found was 26 feet long, although it’s believed they can grower to larger than 50 feet. In addition, oarfish are also quite a strange sea serpent, since they are known to swim vertically and bite off their own tails. Some scientists claim the sea serpents represent multiple species, so finding any specimen to work with is quite a catch.

[Images via The Fishing Weatherman]