In 20 years of working with the group that she founded, Mountain & Sea Adventures, MacAuley noted that the oarfish was only the second specimen she has ever seen.
Scientists are excited about the rare discovery of a 15-foot oarfish that washed ashore on Catalina Island.
But its mind-boggling size indeed resembles an oar belonging to a galley ship.
Oarfish usually live in the open ocean anywhere from 500 to 3,000 feet deep, which makes seeing them a relatively rare occurrence, Matt McClain, the conservancy's director of marketing and communication, told ABC News today.
The longest recorded specimen clocked in at 26 feet, however, the species is believed to grow as long as 50 feet and weigh as much as 600 pounds. The giant fish is said to have inspired sailors' tales of sea serpents.
This is the 18-foot-long oarfish found dead in the water off Catalina Island near Los Angeles in October 2013. Macaulay was out on a kayaking trip with camp kids when she saw the fish.
"Seeing the oarfish yesterday was indeed one of the highlights of my 25-year career as a marine science educator", MacAulay said Tuesday.
The oarfish is a deep-water pelagic fish - the longest bony fish in the world, according to CIMI.
In a statement on their site, the Catalina Island Conservancy said two staff members from the Catalina Island Conservancy first came across the fish’s corpse while conducting a breeding bird survey Monday morning.
The oarfish's tail was maimed as if another animal had fed on it, and birds have been eating the eyes of the giant creature, she said.
The oarfish was found floating near the west end of the island, according to Grind TV, the same spot where previous discoveries of oarfish have been made.
The Orange County Register reports (http://bit.ly/1M6fmKe) that it is not known how the fish died or how it ended up near the beach Monday.