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Giant Oarfish Washes up on California Shore

Imagine enjoying the surf and sun that California has to offer and then coming up against this thing. Sunbathers in Oceanside, California suddenly had to share the sand with this giant sea serpent last week. The rare sight that got everyone’s attention was 14 foot long (4.3 metres) when it washed up on the beach but it wasn’t the biggest Oarfish the southern Californian locals saw that weekend.

The giant oarfish is rarely seen because it lives at depths of 3,300 feet (1,000 metres). It’s the longest species of bony fish and although it’s a giant it’s no threat to people as it only eats tiny plankton.

Only two days later a snorkeler near Catalina Island came across another. This one was 18 foot (5.5 metres) and it took 12 people to get it ashore. The sighting of two rare fish within a couple of days is worrying because it could spell trouble for the area, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s been any ecological disaster – the locals are taking it as a sign that an earthquake could be on its way.

The superstition comes from Japan where it’s believed that a giant oarfish can predict earthquakes because of the depth of ocean in which it lives. Kiyoshi Wadatsumi, who studies tremors at the non-profit organisation e-PISCO explains “Deep-sea fish living near the sea bottom are more sensitive to the movements of active faults than those near the surface of the sea.”

Those in the know aren’t as convinced as Milton Love, a marine biologist from the University of California explains, “It’s possible any of those theories are true. I think it’s a little early to say anything. The number of oarfish that beach themselves worldwide in a year is typically either one or zero, so this is unusual.”

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