Two Rare Oarfish Discovered Off Southern California's Coast Within A Week

By Meera Dolasia on October 19, 2013

CCSS NAS-3 Grades: 3-8 Word Search

They say that when it rains, it pours. That certainly seemed to be case in Southern California last week, except that it was not water falling from the skies, but ginormous rare oarfishes that appeared from deep inside the oceans.

The first of these giant slithery creatures that resemble something out of a science fiction movie or fantasy novel was found accidently by a marine science instructor off the shores of Santa Catalina Island, on Sunday, October 13th, 2013.

Jasmine Santana, an instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) was snorkeling in the pristine waters of the island's Toyon Bay when she spotted something shimmering 30-feet deep inside the ocean. Curious, she went closer and realized that she may have just come across a discovery of a lifetime - A giant 18-ft long oarfish. Not sure if it was still alive, she approached the area cautiously and was a little relieved to see that slithery creature was dead as a doornail.

Knowing fully well that no one would believe what she had encountered, she grabbed the carcass by the tail and dragged it along with her almost 75 feet, all the way to the beach. It took 25 helpers to pull the fish onto the sand, where it was left on display for the day to allow 5th, 6th and 7th grade students that study at the center to admire and examine.

While the institute has sent tissue samples and video footage of the rarely seen creature to the biologists at the University of California Santa Barbara for a detailed examination, CIMI scientists believe that the fish that sports eyes the size of half dollars, died of natural causes. After pondering over what to do with the exciting find, the officials decided to bury the carcass in the sand until it decomposes completely. After that they will extract the skeleton and put it on display at the Institute, for all to admire.

Just as the world was digesting this exciting news, another dead oarfish washed ashore in Oceanside, San Diego on Friday, October 18th, 2013. Measuring 13.5 feet long, it was slightly smaller but just as magical, especially for the lucky third-graders that happened to be at the beach on a field trip and were able to see it in person. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration retrieved the slithery giant, cut it up in sections and placed it into coolers to take back to their laboratory to study in detail.

First discovered in 1772 by Norwegian biologist Peter Ascanius, oarfish or Regalecus glesne, which can grow up to 56-feet are believed to be the longest bony fish in the world. However, not much is known about them because they live at extreme ocean depths of between 656 feet and 3,280 feet and are rarely encountered in nature. They must however like the waters around Southern California, because the longest one found to-date, a 23-foot long behemoth by a group of Navy Seals in 1996, also happened to be off the coast of Coronado in San Diego.,,

Critical Thinking Challenge:

Do you think that there should be any cause for concern that two of the rarely seen fish have been found dead within a week? Why or why not?

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  • HelloMonday, February 16, 2015 at 12:02 pm
    Man, I didn't know we had oarfish in San Diego
    • diamondkid
      diamondkidThursday, February 12, 2015 at 2:42 pm
      That's a big fish!
      • Claudine Friday, January 23, 2015 at 7:14 am
        • nikukyu
          nikukyuWednesday, December 17, 2014 at 2:26 am
          Ugly sorry but it does give me nightmares.
          • gunnarlg
            gunnarlgFriday, October 24, 2014 at 7:49 am
            That's a long fish
            • smileyface4life
              smileyface4lifeWednesday, June 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm
              wat the glob!!!! :\
              • cjmTuesday, May 27, 2014 at 5:50 am
                that one fish big fish
                • cray craySaturday, May 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm
                  that cray cray y'all
                  • thecattheif
                    thecattheifSunday, May 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm
                    The bigger they get the higher the chances are they can die. An oarfish has a certain amount of hight they grow. If oarfish pass this limit they die. These diseases are extremely rare so they were lucky to see it.
                    • thecattheif
                      thecattheifSunday, May 11, 2014 at 5:54 pm
                      Well oar fish get bigger when they die. But don't ask me how it does it. Ask scientest im just Mini Version of a scientest!




                      Coronado, San DiegoOceanside, CASanta Catalina Island, CASouthern California

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