Giant oarfish carcass in Oceanside sliced up, removed for examination

<i>This post has been corrected, as indicated below.</i>

The carcass of a 14-foot oarfish that washed ashore in Oceanside was cut into sections and taken away by scientists for examination.

Oceanside police responding to Friday’s discovery contacted SeaWorld, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which carted the carcass off.

It was the second rare find in a week. Last week, an 18-foot oarfish was found dead off Catalina Island.

Rick Feeney, ichthyology collections manager at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, told The Times last week that giant oarfish -- the world’s largest bony fish -- only “wash up occasionally” because they’re typically in deep, open ocean.


When oarfish come closer to shore, Feeney said, it may be a sign of distress. They could be starving, disoriented or in shallower water because of a storm.

“They’re usually in the deep ocean, away from land,” Feeney said.

Giant oarfish get up to about 27 feet maximum, he said, adding that stories of them reaching 50 or more feet haven’t been verified.

A 12-foot oarfish washed ashore in Malibu in 2010, but it was a much smaller -- and thinner -- variety with its silvery scales and a scarlet red dorsal fin.


In recent years, researchers have captured video of an oarfish swimming deep underwater in the Gulf of Mexico and spotted one swimming not far from the shore in Baja California. But not since a group of Navy SEALS found a 23-foot-long oarfish off Coronado in 1996 has such a large oarfish been reported.

[For the Record, 9:30 a.m. PDT Oct. 21: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that police responding to the discovery of the oarfish contacted the Scripps Research Institute. It was the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.]


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