Who said there are no sea monsters?
The 15-foot oarfish in a photo being passed around by Bill Roecker of Fishingvideos.com was actually taken in May 2007 at Baja California’s East Cape region, near Rancho Leonero Resort, by Troy Tinney of Encinitas.
These bizarre denizens, who occupy the dark depths most of the time, occasionally surface, usually dead or dying. A few have been discovered in recent years in the Sea of Cortez.
They can measure 50-plus feet and undoubtedly — with their long, oar-shaped fins and crimson manes — are among species to have spawned tales of sea serpents among ancient mariners.
You may recall the surfacing of a live oarfish in 2006 inside a bay at Santa Catalina Island. Harbormaster Doug Oudin donned snorkeling gear and swam alongside the fish, before it died, and described its coloring as “metallic silver with bright blue-brown spots and splotches, along with its amazing pinkish-red full-length dorsal fin.”
Their modern discovery may date to 1808, when a 56-foot serpent-like creature washed ashore in Scotland. In 1901, a 22-foot oarfish drifted onto the sand in Newport Beach, becoming, according to one reference book, “the basis for many sea-serpent stories told by local bar patrons for more than a decade after its discovery.”
The oarfish in the photo looks to have had its tail bitten off. In the Sea of Cortez, apparently, there is no dignity in dying.
— Pete Thomas
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