Environmental Protection

Rising from the Deep

The rare oarfish makes its presence public twice in California.

The esoteric oarfish made its presence public on two separate occasions, at two separate Southern California beaches and in less than one week. The first, an 18-foot body, was found dead October 13, 2013 floating near Tayon Bay on California’s Catalina Island. The second, a 14-footer, was found washed ashore October 18 on an Oceanside beach. The distance between the two California beaches is approximately 50 nautical miles.

Prior to the discovery, few people outside of scientists and oceanographers knew that oarfish, a deep-sea dweller, existed. National Geographic however provided insight into the mysterious sea creature, some whom believe legends were made.

According to National Geographic, the oarfish:

  • is the world’s longest bony fish that can grow to 56 feet and weigh up to 600 pounds;
  • have no teeth, feed on plankton and use gill rakers to catch the tiny prey;
  • lack scales, and have tubercules and a silvery coat of guanine
  • is thought to inspire sea serpent folklore, as well as signal pending earthquakes. 
  • Some Japanese scientists believe there may be some scientific basis to signaling earthquakes, saying since oarfish dwell near the sea bottom, they are more sensitive to movements of active faults.

    To watch a living oarfish swim in the Gulf and hear explanations from more scientists, please see nbcsandiego.com or click here.

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