Environment & Science

Rare oarfish found off Catalina Island beach

A 15-feet-long oarfish was found on the shore of Sandy Beach on Catalina Island Monday.
A 15-feet-long oarfish was found on the shore of Sandy Beach on Catalina Island Monday.
Tyler Dvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy
A 15-feet-long oarfish was found on the shore of Sandy Beach on Catalina Island Monday.
Catalina Island Conservancy conservation operations coordinator, Amy Catalano, stands next to a large oarfish, which washed up near Catalina's Emerald Bay.
Tyler Dvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy
A 15-feet-long oarfish was found on the shore of Sandy Beach on Catalina Island Monday.
Tyler Dvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy
A 15-feet-long oarfish was found on the shore of Sandy Beach on Catalina Island Monday.
Tyler Dvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy
A 15-feet-long oarfish was found on the shore of Sandy Beach on Catalina Island Monday.
Tyler Dvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy
A 15-feet-long oarfish was found on the shore of Sandy Beach on Catalina Island Monday.
Tyler Dvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy


In another rare sighting along the California coast, a 15-feet-long oarfish was found on the shore of Catalina Island's Sandy Beach Monday. 

Founder and President CEO of Mountain and Sea Educational Adventures Annie MacAulay said she was informed from another organization that an oarfish had been spotted in the area, and found that local birds had already started to eat the fish by the time she got to the scene.

"The oarfish are really deep fish ... usually they come up only if they are sick or if they are dying," she said.  

In a statement on its site, the Catalina Island Conservancy said two staff members from the Conservancy first came across the fish's corpse while conducting a breeding bird survey Monday morning.  

The last time an oarfish was spotted in the area was in October of 2013 on Catalina Island when an 18-foot specimen was seen near the shore. It was later pulled from the water dead, the Conservancy said. The carcass from that fish was in high demand from researchers around the world.

Little is known about the deep sea creature, which many suspect to be behind legends of sea serpents. 

"Because they're such deep water fish they're so rare for us to have a sighting of them, and there's hardly been any sighting historically of them alive," MacAulay said 

The fish was necropsied by biologists before it was transported to researchers at Cal State Fullerton for further study, said the Conservancy.