A MARINE science instructor snorkelling off California couldn't believe her eyes when she saw the silvery carcass of a 5-metre-long, serpent-like oarfish.
Staffers at the institute are calling it the discovery of a lifetime.
"We've never seen a fish this big,'' said Mark Waddington, senior captain of the Tole Mour, CIMI's sail training ship. "The last oarfish we saw was three feet long.''
Because oarfish dive more than 914 metres deep, sightings of the creatures are rare and they are largely unstudied, according to CIMI.
The obscure fish apparently died of natural causes. Tissue samples and video footage were sent to be studied by biologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara.