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Photos: Rare 13-Feet-Long Oarfish Washes Ashore In Catalina

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It's happened again: a strange, long, slinky fish from the depths has washed ashore. On Monday morning, an oarfish—already dead—washed up on the beach of Catalina Island.

It's not clear who found it first or exactly how long it is. A pair of conservation staffers from the Catalina Island Conservancy came across the fish while they were out conducting a breeding bird survey, according to a release from the agency. Wildlife biologist snapped some great photos of conservation operations coordinator Amy Catalano posing with the huge fish. They estimated it to be 13-feet-long. It was discovered on the west end of the island near Emerald Bay.

Annie MacAulay says that she also discovered the fish while she was taking kids on educational kayaking tour of the island—she estimated it was between 14 and 17 feet long. The longtime resident told CNN that seeing the fish was quite a thrill: "Seeing the oarfish yesterday was indeed one of the highlights of my 25-year career as a marine science educator. Being able to see and touch the longest species of bony fish was amazing!"

MacAulay reported the tail was maimed as if an animal had been feeding on it and birds had been eating the creatures eyes.

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It's rare for an oarfish to be spotted anywhere close to shore, though this isn't the first time an oarfish has washed ashore. An 18-feet-long oarfish was discovered just off the coast in October 2013. It later died and was pulled ashore. It turned out to be hosting all kinds of parasites. That same week, another oarfish washed ashore on the mainland. It turned out to be pregnant. In 2010, one washed ashore in Malibu.

Oarfish are rarely seen—dead or alive. They're typically found deep in the ocean, and very rarely near the coast. Ancient mariners who did spot them mistook them for sea serpents. They have bright red elongated dorsal fins, and long—very long—slender, silvery bodies.

It's not immediately clear how this fish died. The fish was necropsied on Catalina before being shipped off to Cal State Fullerton, according to the Conservancy.

Related:
Rare 18-Foot Oarfish Found Off of Catalina Island
Second Oarfish In A Week Washes Ashore
What Scientists Know So Far About The Mysterious Oarfish Washing Ashore
Photos Of The Parasites Inside The 18-Foot Oarfish