The ocean coughs up some odd things on occasion. You might find a message in a bottle, a giant octopus, or a massive overgrown eel of a fish that wants to take up residence in the deepest, darkest realms of your psyche and scare the bejeezus out of you.
Fortunately, I didn't personally stumble across this very creature. Marine science teacher Jasmine Santana found the 18-foot-long oarfish while snorkeling off the coast of Catalina Island in Southern California. Rather than scream like a girl, as I would have, Santana bravely dragged the carcass toward shore where 15 people helped pull it onto dry land.
Unlike cuddly sea lions and sleek dolphins, oarfish sightings are rare. When they have been spotted, they tend to be much smaller specimens. Generally, the serpent-like fish keeps to itself thousands of feet deep in the ocean.
The now-famous fish may live on as a resident of the Catalina Island Marine Institute, unwittingly donating its body to science. If the institute keeps it, it will be buried in the sand to decompose. Then, the skeleton will be dug up and put on display. For some reason, this method is considered preferable to just hosting a giant sushi party.
Despite this particular oarfish's extensive size, it's really just a pup. The big-dog giant oarfish can reportedly grow up to 56 feet in length and is nicknamed the "king of herrings." Just keep that in mind before the next time you take a dip in the Pacific.
It would be nice if California's very own Nessie sparked an orgy of oarfish in popular culture. The Discovery Channel could launch Oarfish Week. The magnificent beast could provide fodder for the next made-for-SyFy movie. "Oarfishalanche," anyone?
(Via CBS News)