A giant oarfish was discovered off the coast of Catalina Island. The 18-foot carcass was found during a snorkeling expedition. Amazingly, the dead fish was found intact.
Fifteen people worked together to carry the fish onto the shore. The staff at Catalina Island Marine Institute are thrilled with the discovery, although they are unsure how to preserve the specimen.
The institute lacks the space and equipment to preserve the fish and they are currently exploring their options. As reported by Los Angeles Times, program director Jeff Chance is considering using sand.
By burying the fish in several feet of sand, it will decompose naturally. The bones could then be preserved and mounted for display.
Scientists collected several tissue samples, which will be sent to biologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
As reported by Fox News, the giant oarfish is a rare find. The serpent-like fish spend most of their time deep in the ocean. While they can grow to lengths of close to 60 feet, large carcasses are a rarity.
Sailing tour captain Mark Waddington said he has seen oarfish while touring. However, he has never seen one more than three feet long.
The fish was discovered by Jasmine Santana. She knew if she did not bring it ashore, nobody would believe her story. Santana managed to drag the carcass nearly 100 feet. However, she eventually needed help.
The scientists believe the fish died of natural causes, as the carcass was well-preserved.
The deep-water creatures are the longest bony fish in the world. Researchers and historians believe giant oarfish are responsible for numerous legends about monster sea serpents.
Elementary students taking classes at the CIMI had a rare chance to see the fish on Tuesday. The 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students were treated to the opportunity of a lifetime.
Photo of the giant oarfish: Here
[Image via Flickr]