18-foot-long sea creature found off Calif. coast

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, serpentlike 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 on 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 fifth-, sixth- and sevent-grade students studying at CIMI. It will be buried in the sand until it decomposes and then its skeleton will be reconstructed 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.

More in Local News

A wobbly calf grows into a 1,800-pound Lake Stevens behemoth

A shaggy and sometimes cranky bison is the last of his herd. He lives amid encroaching suburbia.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Officials ID man shot and killed in apparent Everett robbery

Police believe the victim may have known the shooter, who drove away before the officers arrived.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

Missing Marysville woman found safe out of state

A Marysville senior who was reported missing in March has… Continue reading

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Front Porch

EVENTS Seahawks event postponed A Toys for Tots Blue Friday fundraiser that… Continue reading

Fire crew returns early from wildfires in Northern California

Four Everett firefighters returned from battling California wildfires late Thursday… Continue reading

5-vehicle collision sends school bus into ditch; no injuries

No students were hurt when a school bus crashed into… Continue reading

Most Read