Oceanside, CA – A 14-ft serpent washed ashore off this Southern California beach city. The serpent is an oarfish, the same fish which is now believed to be at the heart of seafaring myths about sea monsters. Oarfish can grow up to 17 meters (56 feet) in length.
Oarfish are seldom seen by humans surfacing only when they are ill or dying. This makes the two recent sightings all the more peculiar. Days earlier an 18 foot oarfish turned up off Catalina Island. This most recent fish prompted a call to the local police by someone who believed the fish to be a whale.
Scores of people gathered beside the fish to ogle the unusually large serpent. The Oceanside police, rather than tamper with the remains, contacted both Sea World San Diego and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It was the NOAA which picked up the carcass and hauled it off where it was sliced up for further examination.
“The leading thinking until about 15 to 20 years ago is there was one species, and it’s found all over the world,” UC Santa Barbara marine biologist Milton Love said in an interview with KPCC. “If we can get tissue from both of the specimens, we can compare the DNA of animals that had been taken in the Atlantic for instance.”
Oarfish are not harmful to humans as they live on a crustacean diet mainly consisting of zooplankton. They also eat small squids and shrimp and often frequent depths of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). For those wondering how the fish tastes, it probably won’t end up anything like chicken because of the gelatinous texture of the flesh.
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