The discovery of an 18-foot oarfish off Catalina Island thrilled the staff at Catalina Island Marine Institute, California. Image © Catalina Island Marine Institute
Jeff Chace, program director of the institute, said it took about 15 people on Sunday to lug the serpent-like “leviathan” onto shore after it was discovered dead in about 20 feet of water.
“It just amazed me,” he said.
Oarfishes are large, greatly elongated, pelagic lampriform fish and belong to the small family Regalecidae. Found in all temperate to tropical oceans yet rarely seen, the oarfish family contains four species in two genera. One of these, the giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne), is the longest bony fish alive, at up to 17 metres (56 ft) in length.
The Catalina Island Marine Institute is awaiting results of several samples sent out to researchers, including at UC Santa Barbara, but in the meantime, staff members say they lack the capacity to store it.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery,” Chace said.