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Oarfish washes ashore in Oceanside; 2nd found this week

For the second time in less than a week, a rare snakelike oarfish washed up on a Southern California beach Friday.
October 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the second time in less than a week, a rare snakelike deep-water fish washed up on a Southern California beach Friday.

This time, the discovery was made in Oceanside, where beachgoers stumbled upon a 14-foot oarfish carcass.

The oarfish washed onto a jetty and someone managed to drag the snakelike fish to shore where it attracted a lot of attention.

Oarfish live in deep water, usually in depths below 3,000 feet which explains why they are rarely seen above the surface.

This is the second time in a week an oarfish was spotted in Southern California. An 18-foot oarfish was found dead in the water off Catalina Island last Sunday.

An instructor with the Catalina Island Marine Institute found the fish while snorkeling in the waters of Toyon Bay. She dragged it onto the beach with the help of about a dozen people.

Biologists say the giant oarfish is the longest bony fish species, growing as long as 56 feet. They are also thought to be responsible for sea serpent sightings throughout history.

The fish are often called ribbon fish due to how they appear as they move through the water.

Marine experts say its exciting to have two of these rare creatures appear in Southern California.

"I think in the whole history only a handful of them have washed up," said Chris Okamoto, a marine biologist at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. "We don't know alot about the oarfish. We do know that they live in deep water. They feed on things like zoo plankton, which are small animals, and shrimp, things of that nature. We feel fortunate that they've washed up because now we get a little bit of a chance to study them so maybe we'll understand them a little bit more."

Experts do not yet know why the oarfish have suddenly washed up in the shallower waters of Southern California. Scientists plan to study the carcasses.


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