Serpent-Like Sea Creature Caught Off Catalina Island

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

It took more than 15 people to help haul the catch of a lifetime out of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California over the weekend.
The silvery carcass was that of an 18-foot-long, serpent-like oarfish.
Marine science instructor Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute was snorkeling off the coast when she spotted the giant sea creature with eyes the size of half dollars on Sunday. 

She said she knew she had to get the deep-water creature out of the ocean or nobody would believe her.  

After she dragged the carcass by the tail for more than 75 feet, she was able to call to fellow staffers to help. They waded in and helped her haul it the rest of the way to shore. 

Staffers at the institute said the creature, which weighed roughly 300 pounds, was already dead with they found it.

"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 3 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.

Its carcass was on display for students studying at CIMI.

The plan is to bury in the sand until it decomposes and then dig up its skeleton for a future display.

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.

Kent Woods, CIMI's marketing director, said the skeleton of the oarfish will be rebuilt and put on display.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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