January 31, 2008

The Oarfish is the subject of ancient mariner folklore, generating many sagas about attacks by sea serpents.

It is the longest bony fish in the world and have been documented to 41 feet in length, with reports to 50 feet, and 600 pounds. The common name is thought to be derived from oar-like pelvic fins which are used like oars to scull through the water. The scientific community views the global population as "abundant"--which is truly frightening!

The Oarfish has a metallic blue silver coloration with black lines and blotches along the sides. The dorsal fin is exceedingly long, with up to 400 rays, running the entire length of the body; the first 10 to 15 rays are elongated and bright red in color. The head has a concave profile with a highly protrusible small mouth that has no teeth.

The Oarfish has no anal fins, elongated pelvic fins which are paddle-like, and the skin is scaleless. The Oarfish is a relatively obscure fish that is reported to move vertically through the water column and is found between 3,300 feet deep and the surface. It swims by an amiiform mode, undulating its long dorsal fin through the water while holding the body straight. The Oarfish feeds on plankton, brine shrimp, small fish, jellyfish, squid, and other zooplankton. The Oarfish is not of commercial interest because the meat is gelatinous and generally not eatable.

The Oarfish is a pelagic species found in all waters of the globe. It is only seen by humans when on the surface or washed up on the beach when sick or dying. Encounters with live Oarfish are exceedingly rare. They are reported to spawn off the coast of Mexico from July through December.