A marine science instructor snorkeling off the Southern California coast spotted something out of a fantasy novel: the silvery carcass of an 18-foot-long, serpent-like oarfish.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute needed more than 15 helpers to drag the giant creature to shore on Sunday. The obscure fish apparently died of natural causes.

Staffers at the institute are calling it "the discovery of a lifetime".