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18-foot-long sea creature found off California coast

By Christopher Weber

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:18 p.m. HST, Oct 15, 2013

LOS ANGELES >> A marine science instructor snorkeling off the Southern California coast spotted something out of a fantasy novel: the silvery carcass of an 18-foot-long, serpent-like oarfish.

Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute needed more than 15 helpers to drag the giant sea creature with eyes the size of half dollars to shore Sunday.

Staffers at the institute are calling it the discovery of a lifetime.

"We've never seen a fish this big," said Mark Waddington, senior captain of the Tole Mour, CIMI's sail training ship. "The last oarfish we saw was three feet long."

Because oarfish dive more than 3,000 feet deep, sightings of the creatures are rare and they are largely unstudied, according to CIMI.

The obscure fish apparently died of natural causes. Tissue samples and video footage were sent to be studied by biologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Santana spotted something shimmering about 30 feet deep while snorkeling during a staff trip in Toyon Bay at Santa Catalina Island, about two dozen miles from the mainland.

"She said, 'I have to drag this thing out of here or nobody will believe me,'" Waddington said.

After she dragged the carcass by the tail for more than 75 feet, staffers waded in and helped her bring it to shore.

The carcass was on display Tuesday for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students studying at CIMI. It will be buried in the sand until it decomposes and then its skeleton will be reconstituted for display, Waddington said.

The oarfish, which can grow to more than 50 feet, is a deep-water pelagic fish -- the longest bony fish in the world, according to CIMI.

They are likely responsible for sea serpent legends throughout history.

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2NDC wrote:
Amazing that the sharks didn't feast on it. I wonder if they taste funny.
on October 16,2013 | 12:06AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Vegan sharks?
on October 16,2013 | 05:37AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Must have been that creature who missed the flight on the UFO?
on October 16,2013 | 05:37AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
mikethenovice you need to shut up and stop posting so much. You not only say so many stupid things, but you say it multiple times by posting multiple times. Shut up.
on October 16,2013 | 04:11PM
mikethenovice wrote:
That dog in the picture must had a good time sniffing that thing. I know my puppies would have had a feast smelling it.
on October 16,2013 | 05:39AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Holy cow, I thought at 18 feet this thing was HUGE, until the article said they can grow to 50 feet. That's almost 20 yards long.
on October 16,2013 | 04:12PM
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