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13-Foot Giant Oarfish Washes Up on Catalina Island

posted: 06/05/15
by: Danny Clemens
Giant Oarfish on Catalina Island
Tyler Dvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy

A massive 13-foot giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne) washed ashore on California's Catalina Island earlier this week.

The creature was discovered by Catalina Island Conservancy staffers out on a bird survey. It wasn't immediately clear how the fish died. According to the Conservancy, the fish was necropsied locally and then sent to California State University, Fullerton for further research.

Fun facts about the oarfish:

  • First described in 1772, the giant oarfish is the world's longest bony fish -- it has been known to grow up to 36 feet long, although they more commonly measure in around 10 feet.
  • According to NOAA, the fish typically live 3,000 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • The majority of the oarfish's organs are concentrated in the front of its body; as such, it is able to survive the loss of the rear half of its body, according to the International Wildlife Encyclopedia.
  • The giant oarfish is a "majorly parasitized" creature: a specimen beached in 2013 was found to have an intestine full of 6-inch worms, according to LiveScience.
  • The Natural History Museum reports that the giant oarfish mainly feeds on small marine animals that float through the water.

Check out this 2010 video of a giant oarfish swimming in the Gulf of Mexico:

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