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Giant Oarfish Comes to Campus

Marine Biologist Misty Paig-Tran Studying a Rare Specimen Discovered Last Week

Oct. 23, 2013

Researcher Misty Paig-Tran, who studies deep-sea fishes, brought the remains of the 14-foot oarfish that washed up on the beach in Oceanside to campus for study. Student Edween Hernandez got an up-close look at the sea-serpent-like fish.

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Cal State Fullerton marine biologist Misty Paig-Tran will be studying the remains of the 14-foot, roughly 250-pound sea serpent-like oarfish that washed up on the beach Oct. 18 in Oceanside. Paig-Tran, who brought the oarfish to campus Tuesday from Southwest Fisheries Science Center, studies deep sea fishes and will be examining the mechanical properties of the oarfish's bony skeleton.

"The big question is why some deep sea fishes, like the oarfish, are so flaccid," said Paig-Tran, who is ecstatic about studying the rarely seen fish, found at depths of 90-600 feet. "Isn't she beautiful," Paig-Tran remarked as she carefully placed the dissected fish, cut into pieces for transport, back together like a puzzle on the ground outside Dan Black Hall. Paig-Tran and other marine scientists are eager to learn more about the mysterious oarfish, and even possibly answer why this fish, and the 18-foot oarfish found off Santa Catalina Island on Oct. 13, died.

More photos are available online.

Tags:  Academics & Research