Oarfish Washes Up On Catalina Island, California Beach

This marks the second time in two years that an oarfish washed up Catalina Island, Calif.

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This oarfish washed up dead on a beach on Catalina Island. Photo by Mountain and Sea Adventures
John Virata

An oarfish, (family Regalecidae) a fish rarely seen alive, has washed up dead on a beach on Catalina Island, a small island off the coast of Southern California. The fish, between 14 and 17 feet in length was found Monday by the president of the non-profit Mountain and Sea Adventures, an environmental awareness group.

“Seeing the oarfish yesterday was indeed one of the highlights of my 25-year career as a marine science educator,” Annie MacAulay told CNN Tuesday. “Being able to see and touch the longest species of bony fish was amazing!”

The fish was relatively intact, save for the tail that looks as if had been fed on by another animal, and birds have eaten out its eyes.

Thee are four species of oarfish in two genera. The largest oarfish, (Regalecus glesne) is capable of growing to 36 feet in length, according to scientists. They feed on zooplankton have been recorded at depths of 463-492 meters, although some say the oarfish might be found at depths of as much as 1,000 meters. This is the second time an oarfish has washed up on the shore of Catalina Island in the last two years and scientists are unsure why it washed up and why Catalina Island versus coastal California. Because of their behavior and where they live, there is not a whole lot of information on this particular species.

John B. Virata has been keeping fish since he was 10 years old.  He currently keeps an 80 gallon cichlid tank, a 20 gallon freshwater community tank and a 29 gallon BioCube with a Percula clown, a huge blue green chromis, and a firefish all in his kitchen, and a 55 gallon FOWLR tank with a pair of Ocellaris clowns, two blue green chromis, a six line wrasse, a peppermint shrimp, assorted algae and a few aiptasia anemones in his living room. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata

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