A marine science instructor snorkelling off the southern coast of California this week discovered the carcass of a rare deep sea oarfish, one of the longest fish in the world.
Jasmine Santana, of the Catalina Island Marine Institute
, spotted the silvery carcass of what turned out to be a 5.5 meter oarfish near the coast of Catalina Island Sunday in about nine meters of water.
She needed more than 15 helpers to drag the giant, serpent-like creature to the shore.
Staffers at the institute are calling it the discovery of a lifetime.
Because oarfish dive more than 914 meters deep, sightings of the creatures are rare and they are largely unstudied, according to the institute.
The fish apparently died of natural causes.
Tissue samples and video footage were sent to be studied by biologists at the University of California in Santa Barbara. The carcass was on display on Tuesday for students studying at CIMI.
It will be buried in the sand until it decomposes and then its skeleton will be reconstructed for display.
The oarfish, which can grow to more than 50 feet (15 meters), is a deep-water pelagic fish, the longest bony fish in the world, according to CIMI.
They are believed to be responsible for sea serpent legends throughout history.