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Nature & Environment Second Oarfish Found in California Was Ready to Spawn- Is Their Beaching a Sign of Earthquake?

Second Oarfish Found in California Was Ready to Spawn- Is Their Beaching a Sign of Earthquake?

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First Posted: Oct 23, 2013 08:24 AM EDT
Oarfish
A group of tourists has filmed two massive oarfish within the shallow, coastal waters of Baja, Mexico. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

 The massive, 14-feet-long oarfish discovered on a Southern California beach last week was carrying hundreds of thousands of eggs, according to the marine biologists.

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It has been an unbelievable week for marine biologists as elusive species- the oarfish, are being washed ashore on the Southern California Beach. The first oarfish carcass was discovered by a marine science instructor Jasmine Santana, 26, at the Catalina Island Marine Institute. The 18-foot silvery oarfish carcass was discovered during a snorkelling trip. It was dragged to the shore by 20 people. The team collected tissue samples and handed it to researchers at the University of California.

Scientists were mystified on spotting a second oarfish in less than a week on Southern California beach. The 14-foot oarfish found on Oceanside Harbour drew the attention of many people because of its enormous size. NOAA officials collected the oarfish and placed it in a freezer for further analysis.

On dissecting the serpent-like fish on Monday, the researchers noticed that the silvery fish's 6-foot long ovaries had hundreds of thousands of eggs that were nearly ready to be released.

H.J. Walker of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said Tuesday, the healthy female was ripe to spawn, reports Associated Press.

The researchers struggled to find the cause of the oarfish's death but assume that it died because these creatures are deep-water fish couldn't survive in shallow waters. The cause of death of the Catalina Island oarfish is still unknown.

"We are very intrigued," Russ Vetter, director of Southwest Fisheries Science Center, told the Daily News. "This is an opportunity for... the scientific community to study different aspects of this fish that we know absolutely nothing about...."

The waters around Southern California have yielded three rare specimens in less than a week. After the two oarfish the third rare specimen was the saber-tooth whale that was washed ashore in Venice.

The sightings of such rare specimens have spread panic as the scientists claim such sighting is a sign of a upcoming natural calamity, mostly because a traditional Japanese folklore states that oarfish rise to the surface of the water before an impending earthquake. The scientists speculate this because oarfish a bottom dwelling fish and these specimens are more sensitive to seismic shifts, reports Dailymail.

But this belief that animals can predict a natural calamity has been there for ages but there is no sufficient data to support this link.  

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