An afternoon snorkel off Catalina Island brought a local instructor face-to-face with the half-dollar-sized eyes of an 18-foot sea creature on Sunday.
Marine science instructor Jasmine Santana was shocked to confront the rare oarfish in the waters of the island’s Toyon Bay, about 2 miles from Avalon and 22 miles off the Port of Los Angeles.
It was the “discovery of a lifetime,” according to a news release issued by the Catalina Island Marine Institute, for which Santana is an instructor.
The snake-like fish was found late Sunday afternoon dead but nearly completely intact and appeared to have died from natural causes, according to the release.
“It took 15 or 20 of us to pick it up,” said Jeff Chace, a program director with CIMI, which runs a camp out of Toyon Bay that teaches children to snorkel, kayak and hike.
Instructors from CIMI were unloading gear from a trip to Santa Barbara Island when they spotted Santa pulling the oarfish ashore.
“The craziest thing we saw during our two day-journey at sea happened when we got home. These islands never cease to amaze,” instructor Connor Gallagher said, according to the news release.