Giant Oarfish Brought Ashore in 'Discovery of a Lifetime'

A marine biologist came across a rare seas creature in a California bay on Sunday prompting with many saying it was a discovery of a lifetime.

Jasmine Santana, a 26-year-old instructor for the Catalina Island Marine Institute, was snorkeling in Toyon Bay and came across a deceased 18-foot-long oarfish with the institute calling it a "discovery of a lifetime" in a news release.

"She said, 'I was thinking to myself, there's no way anyone is going to believe me," said Mark Waddington, the senior captain of the institute's sailing school training ship, Tole Mour.

Waddington, one of many instructors who take middle school-age students out on the institute's Guided Discoveries tours, told ABC News that he and a group of instructors were unloading gear from the Tole Mour, when they spotted Santana about 150 feet away, trying to bring ashore.

"I remember looking over and seeing her wrestling with it," he said. "When I saw the long tail, I thought, 'Oh that's got to be an oarfish.'"

Waddington said he and about a dozen other people from boat went to help Santana bring the creature ashore before the waves helped bring it on the sand.

When he saw the size of the oarfish for the first time, Waddington said, "I was beside myself, I'm sure I said 'awesome' a lot."

"I had heard of it in studies, but never thought I would see one in person," he added.

The carcass was on display Tuesday for students studying at CIMI. It will be buried in the sand until it decomposes and then its skeleton will be reconstituted for display, Waddington said.

The oarfish, which can grow to more than 50 feet, is a deep-water pelagic fish -- the longest bony fish in the world, according to CIMI.