Organism of the Day: Oarfish!

Finally, a fish! Jeez, it took me long enough! As usual, this is UNusual. Why? It’s big. Oh so very big



I told you. It’s. Big. Oarfish are a family of fish, Regalecidae, with only 2 genera and 4 species. The largest species, Regalecus glesne, has reached a recorded 56 FREAKIN’ FEET LONG. It has earned it’s title as the longest bony fish on the planet. It’s relatives aren’t anything to sneeze at, though. They too can reach big lengths. Oarfish are not commonly found, at least by humans. They are deep sea dwellers, and live all over the world, excluding near the poles. They occupy the depths between 656 ft below the surface up to 3,280ft (although rarely). Believe it or not their goal in life is not to eat your face. They eat plankton, squid, crabs, and krill, with one specimen having around 10,000 krill inside of it at it’s time of death. They capture prey using special gill rakes on the inside of their moths (gill rakes sort of look like they sound). It’s body is, interestingly enough, not covered in scales like most fish, but rather in a silvery coat of guanine over it’s sensitive skin. They can have bright coloration when they’re alive. Despite what you may initially think, it doesn’t wriggle it’s body around to move. The fish keeps straight as an arrow, and has it’s dorsal fin, which runs along almost the entirety of it’s back, ungulate instead like a wavy ribbon. Pretty Trippy. It’s amazing we know so much about it, considering that the fist time we caught one on camera alive was in 2001. So, how do humans come across these peaceful, mainly loner fish? Well, when they’re dead, frankly. When diseased or pushed from their home by some reason, they come to the surface, most of the time dead. This odd fish spawned the legends of sea serpents. Look at this 1860 depiction of one that washed on shore, and tell me you wouldn’t have believed the sailor’s tales after that.


So why bring up the Oarfish? Several days ago, an Oarfish washed ashore on the beaches of Southern California, followed by another one several days later. Some people (like the Japanese) have folk tales that when the fish are found in high numbers on the beach, an earthquake is soon to follow. Scientists are trying to see if there is any truth in this adage, since the fish do live a lot closer to some geologic activity and may be able to detect this. Here are the 2 Oarfish that have washed on our shores in the past few days.

oarfish-5-things_72659_600x450The crew of sailing school vessel Tole Mour and Catalina Island Marine Institute instructors hold an 18-foot-long oarfish that was found in the waters of Toyon Bay on Santa Catalina Island


Posted on October 22, 2013, in Actinopterygii (Ray-Finned Fish), Organism of the Day. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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