This oarfish, found on a beach in California, looks big at 14 feet, but some specimens are three times as long. (Mark Bussey/Associated Press)

Two huge, snakelike fish that were found dead recently along the California coast are a bit of a mystery, scientists said.

A 14-foot oarfish that washed ashore last week had been an apparently healthy female that was about to become a mom. The fish was carrying hundreds of thousands of eggs that were nearly ready to be released, H.J. Walker of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said.

It’s unclear why the creature died, although Walker said it was possible that the fish came too close to the surface and was knocked around by waves.

The oarfish washed up on a beach in Oceanside, California, on Friday.

Several days earlier, a snorkeler found an 18-foot oarfish off Catalina Island and dragged its body to shore with some help. The cause of death for the larger fish also remains a mystery.

Scientists get little chance to study oarfish, which usually live at depths of 500 to 3,000 feet.

— Associated Press