Would you believe an oarfish is actually a lot bigger than an oar? Not exactly a misnomer, this particular oarfish, washed up along the shores of Catalina Island near Los Angeles, California, was up to about 17-feet in length.
What is an Oarfish?
Oarfish are normally thin and long, and are reminiscent of an oar on a ship. Sometimes called “ribbon fish”, they sometimes get mistaken for sea serpents (they do slither so it’s not hard to see why that would be). They are the longest of the bony species, and feed on plankton, fish and shrimp. They have no interest in humans as food. National Geographic reports that oarfish can actually reach lengths of 56 feet and weigh up to 600 pounds.
It’s not easy to spot an oarfish as they are very much bottom-dwellers in that they stay close to the depths of the ocean’s ground. They only seem to swim toward the ocean’s shore in the event of injury or near-death. The last sighting was in October 2013 and it was 18-feet long so this . The only live sighting was way back of 2001.
Finding This Pelagic Serpentine Creature Along Catalina’s Shores
Environmental researchers from the the Catalina Conservancy were actually along Catalina Island’s beach in search of pelagic birds on Monday morning. They stumbled upon this monstrosity instead.
Annie MacAulay saw the oarfish in the middle of a kayaking trip with a group of kids. As president and CEO of Mountain and Sea Adventures, educational trips along her Catalina Island home are part of her every day life. Seeing tremendous oarfish, however are not.
She is a marine science educator at her nonprofit whose aims are to bring awareness about the environment to the community. The oarfish had bodily damage on its tail as if preyed on by another predatory. Birds had pecked its eyes out. Other than that, the fish’s body was fine.
The Significance of this Find
The corpse of the oarfish was sent to researchers at Cal State Fullerton for further examination. Its mass took the help of 16 people to transport it. Researchers performed a necropsy to uncover possible causes for its death. It’s hard to study these serpentine bony fish because of how rare they are to come across. This is a gift for marine science from way down below.