California 'sea serpent' was carrying eggs

2013-10-23 21:24
A marine science instructor snorkelling off the Southern California coast spotted the silvery carcass of the 5m long, serpent-like oarfish. (Catalina Island Marine Institute, AP)

A marine science instructor snorkelling off the Southern California coast spotted the silvery carcass of the 5m long, serpent-like oarfish. (Catalina Island Marine Institute, AP)

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Massive 'sea serpent' found in California

2013-10-17 09:15

Watch marine science instructor, Jasmine Santana, give a first-hand account of the huge oarfish discovered off the California coast earlier this week. WATCH

Los Angeles - A 4.2m oarfish that washed ashore in Southern California last week was ready to become a mommy.

The serpent-like fish - one of two discovered along the coast last week - was dissected on Monday and marine biologists found that the healthy female was ripe to spawn, HJ Walker of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said on Tuesday.

The silvery fish's 1.8m-long ovaries contained hundreds of thousands of eggs that were nearly ready to be released, Walker said.

The fish had lost its tail somehow while alive and it had disc-shaped wounds from cookiecutter sharks, but those injuries wouldn't have been deadly, Walker said.

In fact, it's unclear why the creature died, although Walker said it was possible the deep-water fish came too close to the surface, where it may have been knocked around by waves.

The oarfish washed up on a beach in the San Diego County coastal city of Oceanside on Friday. Several days earlier, a snorkeler found the carcass of an 5.4m oarfish off Catalina Island and dragged it to shore with some help.

The cause of death for the larger fish also remains a mystery.

The rarely seen deep sea-dwelling creatures, which can grow to more than 15m, may be the inspiration of sea monsters found in literature and throughout history.

Photos of the oarfish have circulated widely online, spurring general interest in the mysterious creature but contributing little to scientists' knowledge of the fish.

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