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18-Foot Oarfish Livens Up A 'Leisurely Snorkel' In California

18-Foot Oarfish Livens Up A 'Leisurely Snorkel' In California

October 18, 2013 - A snorkeler off the coast of California found more than she bargained for on the ocean floor Sunday, when she saw the large eyes of an 18-foot fish staring back at her. It turned out to be a dead oarfish, a mysterious creature known to live in waters thousands of feet deep.

The discovery at the bottom of Toyon Bay at Catalina Island came as a shock to Jasmine Santana, an instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute, who approached the ribbon-like animal with care before realizing it was dead. Its body was "almost perfectly intact," the institute says. It may have died of natural causes.

As Santana tried to pull the sea creature through the shallows and up to a beach, other instructors spotted her and pitched in. It took at least 15 of them to hoist the oarfish, which brought a surprise ending to what had been a "leisurely" afternoon snorkel.

The institute, which runs a camp and activities for children, has contacted ocean wildlife experts about the find. The oarfish is the longest bony fish in the world; one specimen was reported as being 36 feet in length, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

( via npr.org )


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