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Giant Oarfish Found on Catalina Island

Two conservation staffers from the Catalina Island Conservancy got a big surprise Monday morning while walking the beach near Emerald Bay.  Wildlife biologist, Tyler Dvorak, and conservation operations coordinator, Amy Catalano, were out conducting a breeding bird survey when they came across a large oarfish. The fish, estimated to be close to 13-feet long, had recently washed up dead on beach. 

This is the second time in just under two years that an oarfish has been found on Catalina.  In October 2013, two other Catalina Island Conservancy staffers, Alexa Johnson and Rich Zanelli, came across an 18-foot oarfish floundering in the shallows. That fish later died and was pulled ashore.  

Oarfish are pelagic fish that usually inhabit the deep waters of the ocean and are rarely seen near the coast.  With their long, slender, silvery bodies, and their bright red elongated dorsal fins, ancient mariners sometimes mistook oarfish as sea serpents.

The fish was necropsied on Catalina before being shipped off to researchers at Cal State Fullerton for further study.

All photos (c) Tyler Dvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy