A 13-foot-long oarfish that washed ashore in Oceanside, Calif. (Photo courtesy: Ghia Nellis)
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'Sea monster' oarfish washes ashore in Calif.

13-foot-long oarfish found on beach

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. - For the second time in a week, a specimen of mystical fish once believed to be a sea serpent has been landed in Southern California.

This time, it was at Oceanside where an oarfish washed up on shore. The specimen was 13-1/2 feet long, according to a Scripps Research Institute researcher who measured the fish.

Last Sunday, an 18-foot dead oarfish was found just off Avalon. About a dozen people were needed to carry it ashore for a snapshot.

At 5 p.m. Friday, the shorter oarfish washed onto the southern jetty at the Oceanside Harbor jetty. This one was spotted by a snorkeler who wrestled the heavy, lifeless fish to shore.

It was the lesson of a lifetime for a of group third graders on a beach trip.

"I was like, 'Wow, that's an oar fish' … 'cause we're studying in class and stuff,'" said Destiny Crite. "I was amazed."

"I was thinking I have no idea what that is and like it looks like a snake but it kind of looks like a giant eel," said Alexandria Boyle.

It was an unusual find even for the scientist who came to collect it.

"It's so rare to find in Southern California, especially in surface water," said Suzanne Kohin, who is with the National Marine Fisheries Service. "They thought it was a very rare event the first time, so these two events that we heard of in the last few weeks are the only ones I've ever heard of."

Oarfish live at depths below 3,000 feet, and are rarely seen at the surface. Some have grown to more than 50 feet in length, and they are believed to be the source of ancient folk tales about sea serpents.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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