The discovery of a giant oarfish carcass on Catalina Island brought back murmurs of marine legends and sailors’ tales.
The news of the oarfish washed ashore Catalina Island quickly became viral in the media and social media as well, with all social media sites buzzing with selfies taken by bystanders when the discovery was made.
Oarfish is a rarely seen or observed species by the scientific community. In order to get to them, team would have to travel at great depths in the ocean as the oarfish usually inhabits the deep waters.
There, its sheer size is sufficient to guarantee it survival on the long term. Yet, what exactly prompts it to come to the surface or to wash ashore as such, remains elusive.
The oarfish that washed ashore on Catalina Island is reported to have been 13.5 feet long. No reports of the weight were released. However, it is reported that its ovaries alone are 7 feet long.
Amy Catalano, who is a conservation coordinator at the Catalina Island Conservancy was present at the scene when the oarfish was discovered.
Catalano told the press that under normal conditions oarfish live deep in the recesses of the ocean and are very rarely seen anywhere closer to the surface. The individual found on the beach of Catalina Island was dead at the moment of its finding.
However, this is not the first specimen registered in the area. Back in 2013, another oarfish washed ashore in the same location. Reportedly, it was 18 feet long. Just days later another oarfish was found north of San Diego, also washed ashore.
Usually, oarfish are found in high numbers on the beaches of Baja California in Mexico, according to John Lundberg who curates the ichthyology department of the Academy of Natural Sciences – Drexel University, Philadelphia.
As the study of oarfish is rather difficult in its native environment, the scientific community takes advantage of the carcasses that are washing ashore.
The Catalina Island oarfish is already in the custody of the California State University in Fullerton. Here, the oarfish’s bone structure, and its feeding mechanism will make the object of study for assistant professor Misty Paig-Tran.
Another team will be looking at the gills and muscle tissue of the oarfish, as well as analyzing the fecundity of the species.
With such reports and such lengths it is easily understandable why oarfish are the matter of legends for the untrained eye. Even for the scientific community they are a little known species.
Yet, legends tell of oarfish as the giant serpents of the sea, able to cause earthquakes and swipe everything with one tail whip.
Image Source: livescience.com