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Oarfish Spotted In Spain More Likely A Shark Carcass

Oarfish Spotted In Spain More Likely A Shark Carcass

08/22/2013

A decomposing marine life carcass was discovered on a Spanish shore on Wednesday, which many believed was that of the tale-inducing oarfish. However, after careful examinations of photographs of the carcass, its been all but confirmed that it was the rotting remains of a thresher shark.

After a woman strolling the shore found a part of the unidenfied sea creature, the Civil Protection Agency took a look to try to determine what it had been. Their initial efforts to discern the origins of the 13-foot-long carcass came up short.

"A lady found one part, and we helped her retrieve the rest," Civil Protection coordinator Maria Sanchez said. "We have no idea what it was. It really stank, as it was in the advanced stages of decomposition."

Soon after, speculation that the remains belonged to an oarfish began. Oarfish, which can grow from 10 to 33ft, are thought to be the longest bony fish alive – elongated and ribbony as it swims through the oceans. Their propensity to make themselves visible above the water’s surface while sick or dying has caused them to serve as inspiration for numerous legends about "sea serpents."

“Certainly the tail looks oarfish-y," University of Miami researcher and marine biology blogger David Shiffman told NBC News yesterday.

However, Shiffman also suggested the carcass could belong to a shark subspecies. "It's hard to tell, but the official guess that it could be a thresher shark seems plausible."

Later on Thursday, Florida State University ichthyologist Dean Grubbs expressed more certainty regarding the nature of the late sea creature. "That is definitely a shark skeleton," Grubbs told NBC News. "The elements toward the back were confusing me, but those are the lower caudal fin supports. The 'horns' are the scapulocoracoids which support the pectoral fins."

July 2008 marked the first time that scientists were able to capture a healthy oarfish on camera in its natural habitat in deeper seas. It stretched a length between 17 and 33 ft.

– Chelsea Regan

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Read more: Oarfish, Thresher Shark

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