Jumat, 24 Juli 2020

Mysterious deep-sea oarfish found on Baja beach; photos - For The Win

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A deep-sea oarfish has washed up on a Mexican beach for the second time in six weeks, the latest a 20-foot specimen discovered last Friday near La Paz in Baja California Sur.

Serpent-like oarfish, which can measure 30-plus feet, reside in tropical and temperate waters at depths of 600 to more than 3,000 feet. They’re rarely encountered but occasionally become stranded on beaches, dead or dying.

The 20-foot oarfish was found at Pichilingue, a port city inside La Paz Bay, by Fernando Cavalin, Tito Taylor and Laura Lafont. (See photos.)

Cavalin, Hatchery Manager at Earth Ocean Farms in La Paz, told For The Win Outdoors that the biologists were performing a monthly inspection at the facility’s intake area when they spotted the oarfish in the rocks.

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“It was a surprise,” he said of the afternoon discovery. “At first I thought it was alive but it was dead; probably died in the morning.”

Cavalin, who placed the oarfish back into the bay to become food for nearshore critters, told Big Fish that he discovered a much smaller oarfish at Pichilingue in 2015.

Last month, on June 11, an 18-foot oarfish was found dying on a beach in Cozumel, a Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea.

La Paz, capital of Baja California Sur, is on the Sea of Cortez, or Gulf of California. Though oarfish sightings anywhere are rare, a handful of fairly recent sightings have occurred on Sea of Cortez beaches.

Last June, about 100 miles south of La Paz, two brothers on a fishing trip found and revived a juvenile oarfish and watched it swim away, but it was doubtful that the fish survived.

In 2012, in Cabo San Lucas on Baja California’s tip, a 15-foot oarfish washed ashore alive. A crowd of tourists gathered to watch an unsuccessful attempt to revive the animal.

It’s not sure why the denizens occasionally become stranded.

However, scientists believe that because the slender fish live at depths where there are no currents, and because they lack significant body mass, they struggle if they venture too high in the water column.

Cavalin said oarfish in the Sea of Cortez might languish in warmer sea temperatures during the summer, making them vulnerable.

Because of their bizarre appearance, oarfish are believed to have spawned sea monster myths among ancient mariners.

Some people believe that oarfish strandings portend catastrophic events, such as earthquakes. Cavalin dismissed this as superstition, adding: “It is just a fish, like any other.”

–Images showing Fernando Cavalin (black-and-yellow vest), Tito Taylor and Laura Lafont posing with the oarfish are used with the permission of Fernando Cavalin

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July 25, 2020 at 12:08AM
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Mysterious deep-sea oarfish found on Baja beach; photos - For The Win

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