Second oarfish washes ashore in California, puzzles scientists

For the second time in a week, a rare oarfish carcass washed up onto a California beach.
Posted By Kate Stanton  |  Oct. 20, 2013 at 7:17 PM
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(UPI) -- Less than a week after snorkelers spotted an 18-foot oarfish off the coast of California's Catalina Island, another one of the rare, serpentine sea creatures washed ashore onto Southern California's Oceanside Beach.

As a crowd of beachgoers stood agape at the oarfish -- measuring nearly 14 feet long -- while Oceanside police called SeaWorld San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to WUSA 9.

“The call came out as a possible dead whale stranded on the beach, so we responded and saw the fish on the sand right as it washed up,” Oceanside police officer Mark Bussey told NBC News.

According to NBC Los Angeles, NOAA officials arrived, cut the oarfish into sections and transported it away from the beach in coolers.

Last Sunday, about 15 people helped a snorkeling instructor lug his 18-foot-long discovery onto the beach.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery," Jeff Chase, director of the Catalina Island Marine Institute, said at the time. He added that he planned to mount the animal's skeleton once it had decomposed.

Rick Feeney, ichthyology collections manager at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, told the Los Angeles Times last week that oarfish live deep in the ocean and rarely come up to shore. When they do, it's usually a "sign of distress."

"Not a whole lot is known about them, because they are sort of secretive," he added. "We're slowly finding out more about them."

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