The world’s largest, longest bony fish known to currently be in existence is known as the oarfish. It has been reported that one of the rarely-seen fish has died after beaching in Isla San Francisco, located in Mexico. The news comes after it had first been spotted swimming in the shallow waters of Sea of Cortes.
The oarfish, known as Regalecus glesne scientifically, is known for its remarkably long, silver body. They are so named for their long pectoral fins, which resemble oars. People have been known to call them ribbonfish, roosterfish (this due to the slender red fin on their heads) and sometimes the king of herrings, because they resemble the smaller fish to some degree.
Oarfish are reported to be able to reach over 50 feet of length and can weigh as much as 600 lbs. The species of fish is rarely ever seen by humans, as they are believed to dwell somewhere between 650 and 3,000 feet below the ocean’s surface where there is very little light. Due to this fact, very little is known about the oarfish, including population, habitat and breeding. It is known that oarfish leave their eggs on the surface of the ocean, where they later hatch. It is widely believed by scientists that the oarfish is species that leads a solitary life.
The oarfish do not have scales like other species of fish. Instead, they have a silvery coat made of a material known as guanine. They have adapted to the conditions needed to be able to survive under high pressure, but when they reach the surface, their skin is soft and very easily damaged.
It is believed by researchers that the tales of legendary sea monsters and serpents told by mariners and beach goers in history actually featured the oarfish, who pose no threat to humans. Instead, they feed on plankton. Their mouths contain structures known as gill rakers, which are to help catch tiny organisms to feed on. They are usually sought after for sport as a game fish, but are not fished commercially since its flesh is described as tasting like gelatinous goo.
Everything known about the oarfish has been learned from the ones that have beached ashore, like the one in Mexico. The first time one was filmed alive was in 2001 by a team of US Navy personnel fixing a buoy located in the Bahamas. They observed the fish’s swimming habits, which include undulating the dorsal fin while keeping its long body straight.
Besides the oarfish beached in Mexico just earlier today, another recent event occurred in October of 2013. Jasmine Santana, a marine science instructor at Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI), had been snorkeling off the coast of Southern California when she discovered a dead 18-foot long fish 15 feet below the surface. She spent 15 minutes pulling the fish to the surface, where 14 others helped her after. CIMI then preserved the 400-pound carcass in ice and sent tissues and other samples to marine scientists in hopes of studying the DNA and dietary habits of the oarfish.
By Jessica Cooley