The first discovery was worth celebrating: A snorkling researcher found an intact oarfish carcass in relatively shallow water on the California coast. Oarfish are hardly ever seen, alive or dead. They’re the longest bony fish in the world, said to grow up to between 30 and 50 feet in length, but live in deep water, thousands of feet below the surface.
Now, the oarfish story may be taking an alarming turn. A second dead oarfish was found along the California coast just yesterday.
It’s said that oarfish finds are extremely rare. So the chances of two oarfish being found in along the coast of a single state are quite slim… unless the cause of the findings is related.
“When they come to shallow water, they’re dying,” explains a researcher in this video of a live oarfish.
Is something causing an oarfish die-off, or is it just a random reoccurence?
Oarfish are said to be harmless to humans. They’re toothless, and they eat little shrimp, so it’s not likely that people could get a dangerous bite from an oarfish, especially a foundering specimen weakening in shallow water.
However, the oarfish has a smaller relative, Agrostichthys parkeri, the ribbonfish, which has delivered electric shocks to people who have handled it. Might a healthy oarfish possess a similar ability? Nobody knows.