Video: Two Rare, 15-Foot Oarfish Seen Swimming With Tourists

By Carl Engelking | April 8, 2014 10:38 am

If there were ever a contest to snatch the title of “Ocean’s Top Sea Monster,” the oarfish would win in a landslide. The rare, sinuous fish lives deep in tropical waters and can grow to a length of up to 56 feet and weigh over 600 pounds. And, if you still aren’t convinced, the fish sports a red dorsal fin that rises at its head and resembles a massive punk rock Mohawk.

In March, a lucky group affiliated with Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium bumped into two of these silvery sea serpents swimming near the shore of the Sea of Cortés in Mexico. Fortunately for us, their cameras were rolling and they captured rare footage of the eel-like creatures swimming at their feet.

A trip to shore for an oarfish is rare, and usually ends badly for the fish. The species made headlines in the fall when an 18-foot specimen, one of the biggest ever reported, died off the coast of California. Snorkelers brought it onto land where researchers and passers-by marveled at the behemoth.

The oarfish is often the subject of myth and legend, and you can see why from the video. But no need to fear an oarfish encounter: they feed primarily on small ocean prey like zooplankton, shrimp and other crustaceans.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: unusual organisms
  • Spiritdove Smith

    why the heck didnt they leave it alone ..?

    • nelly0042

      The impression I got was that they had pushed it back into the water after it had beached itself. Seems to me they were being good Samaritans.

    • misscap

      Ya, they should.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Aaron Danker

    what happened to the fish? Did it beach itself? Why did beach itself if it did

  • surfeagle

    My question is where do they lay there eggs?

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Larry Cunningham

      Anywhere they want. :-)

  • Final_Word

    Kill it with fire!

  • Final_Word

    Kill it with fire!

  • bryant willis

    Why are we seeing so many sightings of this “rare” fish lately?

    • John Morgan

      Gonna take a guess without meaning to be too sensational but it’s either heightened perception with more mobile video capabilities by humans OR I say this because I enjoy the environment being healthy it’s being driven out of deep waters like some whales are by sonar or pollution. Just some thoughts, there is obviously no direct research to support my atm.

      • John Morgan

        Just read it might have been earthquake activity.

  • Lisa M. Phelps

    This is a deep sea fish and normally will only surface when dying. Seeing its listless swim I would say that would be the reason for its surfacing

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