An extraordinary discovery has recently been made off the coast of Southern California. Marine science professor Jasmine Santana came face to face with a creature of myth and legend: an 18-foot-long oarfish known for its massive size and mythical status.
While snorkeling, Jasmine Santana, an instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI), encountered a massive oarfish. This creature, resembling something from a fantasy novel, required over 15 helpers to bring it ashore due to its enormous size.
The Team’s Reaction
Mark Waddington, the senior captain of CIMI’s sail training ship Tole Mour, expressed amazement at the sight. The largest oarfish they had encountered before was only about 3 feet long. This discovery is unprecedented for the institute and has generated immense excitement among the staff.
The Rarity of Oarfish
Oarfish are elusive, typically preferring depths of several thousand feet, making them a rare sight for humans. They remain a mystery to even marine scientists. The discovered oarfish had died naturally, prompting UC Santa Barbara biologists to investigate further through tissue samples and video analysis.
Santana, upon finding the oarfish while snorkeling, managed to drag it to shore. This spectacle of her wrestling with the enormous sea creature captivated onlookers. The oarfish’s skeleton was later presented to CIMI students, turning it into a valuable educational tool.
Inspiring Future Marine Biologists
The discovery of this oarfish could spur interest in marine biology, particularly in studying larger sea creatures. Oarfish have a legendary status due to their potential to grow up to 50 feet, making them the longest bony fish in the world and possibly the inspiration behind sea serpent tales.
Historical Background of Oarfish
Also known as ribbonfish, streamer fish, Pacific oarfish, and king of the herring, oarfish were first recorded in 1772. They inhabit depths of 656 to 3,280 feet and can reach lengths of up to 50 feet and weigh as much as 600 pounds. The longest recorded oarfish was 26 feet long.
With the recent discovery of an 18-foot oarfish carcass, these seldom-seen creatures are gaining more attention. Their impressive size and mystique continue to captivate the imagination of both the public and the scientific community, highlighting the vast and unexplored wonders of our oceans.