Rarely seen sea creature washes ashore in British Columbia

A rare and odd-looking sea creature, which according to legend annually leads salmon to their spawning grounds, washed ashore in Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

The discovery was made Thursday by a man at Rattenbury Beach in Oak Bay.

"I was just walking along with my dog and saw this bright shining fish here, and I never saw anything like it, so I was interested," Ben Baker told Oak Bay News. "I have no idea what it could be, maybe an oarfish, but who knows."

An oarfish was a pretty good guess, but a marine biologist at the other end of Vancouver Island appears to have correctly identified it as a king-of-the-salmon, a type of ribbonfish.

Jackie Hildering, who writes The Marine Detective blog, wrote on Facebook that "if it is truly more than [6 feet], it would be the largest individual documented."

The king-of-the-salmon is said to reach 6 feet in length, is very thin, is usually found in the open ocean to depths of 3,000 feet, and range from the Gulf of Alaska to Chile.

Makah First Nation, indigenous people living in Washington west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, believed the fish would lead salmon on their annual spawning migration, so killing one was forbidden lest it stop the salmon run.

Hildering wrote a blog about the "very rare fish" and continues to update the post.

"When one of these very rare and unique fish does wash ashore, it usually draws a lot of attention," Hildering wrote.

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