A rare oarfish was found on Monday on a beach on Catalina Island. Island harbor patrol found a dead 17-foot oarfish floating in the waters of Sandy Beach, on the western part of the island, according to The Orange County Register.
Oarfish live at depths of 700 to 3,000 feet; much about them is a mystery to scientists. The only time oarfish are close enough to the surface to be seen, they are dead or dying. Oarfish can grow up to 50 feet.
It is still unknown how the snake-like fish died. Annie MacAulay, a marine scientist who was nearby at Emerald Bay with 50 science camp students, said seagulls had been eating parts of the body, according to The Orange County Register. MacAulay has only seen two oarfish in 20 years working on the island.
"It was such a coincidence that I was here today," MacAulay told The Orange County Register. "I'm doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, so I'm not always at camp."
The fish remained on the beach on Tuesday, according to CNN. Sixteen people were needed to pick up the fish. The body was necropsied on Catalina before it was sent to researchers at Cal State Fullerton for further study, according to the Catalina Island Conservancy.
An 18-foot dead oarfish was found at Toyon Bay in 2013. A 14-foot oarfish washed up in Oceanside five days later, according to The Orange County Register. Those were the last two oarfish sightings in the region before Monday's fish.