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Giant oarfish found on California beach taken for possible study

October 20, 2013|By a Times Staff Writer | This post has been corrected, as indicated below.

A 14-foot oarfish carcass found Friday on a Oceanside beach was taken away by scientists for possible study.

Oceanside police responding to Friday's discovery contacted SeaWorld, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The fish was cut into sections and taken away by NOAA.

Photos show a group of surfers and beachgoers examining the creature. Authorities said that they received a call from a witness believing it was actually a washed-up whale.

The oarfish is the world's largest bony fish and lives mostly at great depths. Because of its size and menacing appearance, the oarfish may be the source of tales of sea serpents. 

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 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.

[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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