By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Very recently, a group of Catalina Island Marine Institute instructors spotted a long shimmering silver object near the coast. As they approached, the individuals realized it was the dead body of a giant 18-foot-long oarfish… being dragged through the shallows by fellow instructor Jasmine Santana! It took 15 people to pull the fish out of the water and according to scientists, it’s one of the biggest oarfish discovered in over 20 years.
Santana recounted, “I was thinking, ‘What could this be?’ It’s so big! We usually don’t have anything that long in our bay… We snorkel here almost daily, so it’s crazy to find this.” In fact, 1996 is the last time one this big was discovered, when a group of Navy SEALS came across an oarfish 23 feet long! Wow, that makes the giant arapaima look like a tadpole. There have been a few more spotted throughout the years in Baja California, and the Gulf of Mexico, but seeing them is still a rare event.
See, these sea animals usually spend their time about 3,000 feet deep down in the dark waters. According to Rick Feeney of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, they swim in shallow waters only when they are distressed, lost, or disoriented. “Not a whole lot is known about them, because they are sort of secretive,” said Feeney. “We’re slowly finding out more about them.”
Meanwhile, the Catalina Island Marine Institute is analyzing samples from the 18-foot-long fish. Sadly, they don’t have the appropriate tools to keep the creature well preserved. Instead, they’re going to bury the body under 3 feet of sand, allow it to decompose, and keep the skeleton.
Images courtesy of Catalina Island Marine Institute.