It's hard not to get really excited by an oarfish sighting. Thanks to their uncanny resemblance to the sea serpents of lore, and their habit of popping up so very infrequently, these strange creatures have remained a true mystery of the deep. So when one washed up dead on a beach in Albay, Philippines recently, locals were ecstatic. 

Image: Joey Salceda/Facebook

At a reported 13 feet (4 metres) and 110 pounds (50 kilograms), it's easy to see why the mammoth animal drew such a crowd. While this is the longest oarfish to hit Philippines sand, it's far from the biggest one we've seen. Back in 2013, an 18-footer washed up on California's Catalina Island. The size record stands at an impressive 36 feet (11 metres)!

Exactly why oarfish sporadically wash up remains a mystery. Some speculate that the deep-sea fish are easily injured during storms and simply float inshore. Others suggest that changing currents may be shifting the distribution of their prey – plankton, crustaceans and squid – forcing oarfish to spend more time in the shallows.

The Albay oarfish reportedly measured in at 13 feet (4 metres). Image: Joey Salceda/Facebook

The Albay fish showed no obvious cause of death, aside from a small injury to the mouth that likely wasn't fatal. Without a full necropsy, we'll never know for certain.

According to Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who posted photos of the find on his Facebook page, half of the fish's meat was sold to fish market patrons, while the other half was distributed among local residents.


Top header image: CSUF Photos, Flickr