For the second time in a week, the rare, serpentine oarfish has surfaced on a Southern California beach.
Beach goers at Oceanside Harbor crossed paths Friday afternoon with the deep-sea monster when its carcass washed ashore, Oceanside Police Officer Mark Bussey said. The fish measured 13 ½ feet long.
The discovery came just days after an 18-foot dead oarfish was found in the waters off Catalina Island.
“The call came out as a possible dead whale stranded on the beach, so we responded and saw the fish on the sand right as it washed up,” Bussey said.
Oceanside police then contacted SeaWorld San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Suzanne Kohin of NOAA Fisheries Serivice responded, measured and took possession of the oarfish for research, Bussey said.
Bussey added that people on the beach were “flabbergasted” to see the fish.
“It’s not the typical fish you see on shore,” he said, adding the oarfish probably weighed over 200 pounds.
But Bussey recognized the fish from the sighting less than a week ago off Catalina Island. Jasmine Santana, a science instructor for the Catalina Marine Institute was snorkeling off Toyon Bay when she discovered the body of the creature on a seabed.
The fish was far too big for Santana to carry alone; it took 15 people to bring the beast to shore.
But these two massive fish are puny by oarfish standards, according to the NOAA. The oarfish is the largest bony fish in the sea and can grow over 50 feet in length.
Very little is known about the species, since it usually is found hundreds, if not thousands of feet below the surface, reaching depths up to 3,000 feet.