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OAR-some! 18ft SEA SERPENT discovered off US coast

Thrilled staffers pull massive lengthy oarfish onto Californian beach

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Vid A marine boffin has come across a terrifying 18-foot "sea serpent" off the coast of California.

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Marine science instructor Jasmine Santana was swimming along the coast of Catalina Island when she came across the huge beast, which was actually a rare oarfish, but nonetheless the "discovery of a lifetime", according to local news network KTLA.

The oarfish, a type of elongated lampriform fish, looks like a giant snake. It was dead when Santana found it, having apparently succumbed to natural causes.

“It took 15 or 20 of us to pick it up,” said Jeff Chace, a programme director at the Catalina Island Marine Institute, where Santana works.

Oarfish, which can grow up to more than 15m (50ft), are the longest bony fish in the world, but they're usually found only further away from the shore, not so close to land.

“It’s one of these rare weird things you see in Southern California,” Chace said.

Both kids at the marine camp and employees of the institute got a good look at the little-known fish, which was pulled up onto the beach. But the institute isn't sure what it could do with the body since it won't fit in the freezer, Chace said.

The group has contacted a "fish guru" at UC Santa Barbara and the Museum of Natural History in LA, but they may have to bury the body and leave it to decompose into a skeleton. ®

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