Two wildlife experts at the Catalina Island Conservancy in California have discovered the remains of an oarfish while conducting a bird survey at a local beach on Monday.
According to reports, Amy Catalano and Tyler Dvorak were walking on a beach when they suddenly found the carcass of the massive oarfish along the shore. The creature was around 13-feet-long and had serpent-like features.
"It was amazing, it felt like a movie prop, it looked make-believe almost," Catalano said.
Catalano believes the fish could have been washed ashore only minutes before they spotted it.
Matt McClain, director of marketing and communication for the Catalina Island Conservancy, explained that this was a rare occurrence as these creatures are known to live in the open ocean anywhere from 500 to 3,000 feet deep.
He added that most of what scientists know about these creatures comes from past studies of oarfish that have been washed ashore in different parts of the world.
"Researchers have found some washed ashore in San Diego and New Zealand, too," McClain said. "They're definitely not common to see but also not super-duper rare."
The conservationists collected tissue samples from the dead oarfish, including its head, guts, reproductive tract and other parts, and sent them to the California State University, Fullerton. The samples will be analyzed by Biological Science professor Misty Paig-Tran and her students.
Catalano said seagulls have started feasting on what remained of the oarfish carcass on the beach.
The conservancy said that the "long, slender, silvery bodies" of the fish have caused ancient mariners to mistake the creature for sea serpents.
They have also been referred to as "water-snakes" by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his work The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
In October 2013, an 18-foot oarfish was also found off the coast of Catalina Island.
Jasmine Santana, a local marine science instructor, stumbled upon the giant fish in the waters of Toyon Bay. She pulled the creature ashore with the help from several co-workers at the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI).
CIMI program director Jeff Chace said that it took 15 or 20 of them just to lift the 18-foot oarfish up. He added that the creature is "one of these rare, weird things you see in Southern California."
Photo: Craig Nagy | Flickr