Second Oarfish washes up on California beach

The carcass of a 4.2m/14' Oarfish has washed up on a beach in California in the US, less than a week after a marine instructor found the body of a 5.4m/18' specimen in shallow water off the California coast, at Catalina Island.

Beachgoers saw the second carcass wash up on a beach in Oceanside on Friday and called police.

Oceanside police Officer Mark Bussey told the San Diego Union-Tribune that one caller thought it was a whale and a crowd of 75 onlookers gathered around the scene at one point.

What makes this second discovery so unusual, is the fact that specimens of these deep-sea creatures are discovered very rarely, either dead or alive, so to get two within the space of five days is puzzling scientists.

"We are very intrigued," Russ Vetter, director of Southwest Fisheries Science Center, told the New York Daily News. "This is an opportunity for… the scientific community to study different aspects of this fish that we know absolutely nothing about."

Milton Love, a research biologist at the University of California, said that it's possible the Oarfish, which are not strong swimmers, were carried close to the shore by a powerful current and then battered to death by strong swells — and that there could be more bodies of these giant fish lying in water out there that we'll never know about.

Love is awaiting tissue samples of the larger Oarfish found off Catalina Island for DNA sampling.

The carcass of the second oarfish has been taken away by NOAA for study.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.