Scientists Rush to Grab California's Giant Fish Carcasses

Scientists know virtually nothing about the oarfish, but they keep popping up along West Coast beaches.

Tyler Dvorak, Catalina Island Conservancy

Gigantic oarfish are washing up on California’s shores and many people are puzzled why it keeps happening.

The most recent carcass, a 13.5-foot specimen, washed up and was found on Catalina Island (about 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles) by a group of wildlife biologists conducting a bird breeding survey. They sent up the batfish signal and icthyologists from Cal State, Fullerton swiftly scooped up the Catalina Island specimen and whisked it back to the lab in order to study its jelly-like bone structure, stomach contents, and outsized reproductive organs. (When measured, the Catalina Island oarfish’s ovaries weighed in at 24 pounds and were 7 feet in length.)

Tyler Dvorak, Catalina Island Conservancy

The mysterious oarfish is a deep-water fish rarely seen in shallow depths, and it usually sticks to areas up to 3,000 feet deep. It was first observed only fourteen years ago and nearly nothing is known about its life cycle or natural habits. Since then, dozens of specimens have washed up along beaches on the wst coast of the United States and Mexico.

So why do they keep showing up along the beaches? No one really knows. They’re deep sea monsters and some suspect that they only travel to the surface from their normal habitat if they’re sick or dying. 

Tyler Dvorak, Catalina Island Conservancy

Much remains to be explained and scientist are rushing to find out whatever they can as fast as they can.

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