Snorkeler finds 18-foot Oarfish off Catalina Island

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An 18-foot oarfish was discovered off Toyon Bay on Catalina Island Sunday (credit: Catalina Island Marine Institute).

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CATALINA ISLAND, Calif. — It’s certainly something snorkelers don’t encounter everyday.

Jasmine Santana, a marine science instructor with the Catalina Island Marine Institute, got the shock of a lifetime after coming face-to-face with an 18-foot sea creature while snorkeling on Sunday.

According to California’s KTLA, Santana came across the rare oarfish during an afternoon snorkel in the waters of Toyon Bay, which is about 22 miles off the Port of Los Angeles.

The oarfish is the longest bony fish in the world, and can grow to more than 50 feet, according to the CIMI. Jeff Chace, a program director with the institute said it’s rare to see the deep-water pelagic fish so close to shore.

The CIMI runs a camp that teaches children how to snorkel, kayak and hike near Toyon Bay.

“It took 15 or 20 of us to pick it up,” Chace said.

The oarfish was found dead, but completely intact. It appears the fish died from natural causes, according to a news release.

The CIMI is now trying to figure out what to do with the fish’s body. The institute has been talking with UC Santa Barbara, as well as the Museum of Natural History in LA, according to Chace.

“We can’t even really fit it into our freezer,” he said.

An 18-foot oarfish was discovered off Toyon Bay on Catalina Island Sunday (credit: Catalina Island Marine Institute).
An 18-foot oarfish was discovered off Toyon Bay on Catalina Island Sunday (credit: Catalina Island Marine Institute).

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