A marine science instructor has made what's being called the discovery of a lifetime: She found an 18-foot-long oarfish Sunday off Catalina Island.

While snorkeling, Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute discovered the obscure fish, which had evidently died of natural causes, and decided to bring it onshore.

Santana's colleagues saw her struggling to move the dead animal and came to her aid, ultimately discovering that it would take 15 people to move the animal to the beach.

Mark Johnson, a longtime CIMI staffer, said in a statement that he'd yet to witness such a sight during his tenure at the institute.

"In 32 years here, I have never seen anything like this," he said.

Because oarfish dive more than 3,000 feet deep, sightings of the creatures are rare, according to CIMI. Oarfish have the distinction of being the longest bony fish species, CIMI reports.

Officials from the institute sent tissue samples and footage of the oarfish to an expert at UC Santa Barbara, where the species of the creature will be determined.