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Natural World

'Sea serpent' oarfish washes up on beach

May 1, 2015 | Comment icon 17 comments



A 19th century depiction of a 16ft oarfish that washed up on a beach in Bermuda. Image Credit: PD - 1860
The enormous fish, which grows up to 36ft, is believed to have sparked many legends about sea monsters.
Despite usually only being found in the depths of the ocean, oarfish have been known to wash up on beaches from time to time.

Back in April a particularly impressive specimen was found on the shoreline at Otago Harbour on New Zealand's South Island where it attracted the attention of local conservationist David Agnew.

"It was really fresh, it had just washed up on the night tide and looking at it, it was a pretty weird looking creature," he said.
"I have never seen such a fish in 20 years of living here."

It isn't clear how the fish ended up on the beach but in a strange twist it was found to have vanished entirely by the following morning. Officials have since issued a caution to anyone who might have taken it to avoid eating it as they had been unable to determine exactly how it had died.

Oarfish have long sparked stories and tales of sea serpents in many parts of the world and in Japan their appearance has been linked to the likelihood of an impending earthquake.

Particularly large oarfish of 1.5m or more have even been known to chew off their own tales.

Comments (17)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
I wasn't aware of the earthquake connection and theory with oarfish.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Yamato 7 years ago
They're not stupid they're hungry. Since we're not walking around with fingernails and toenails three feet long and having to eat those to stay alive, I guess it means we're smart for cutting them? How long does their tail need to get before it's overkill? If they weren't so rare that they're unseen for decades, maybe they'd be evolving in these oceans we have these days into a shorter fish. If there weren't so many holes being blown in the ocean's ecosystem maybe there'd be sufficient prey available to sustain the food chain that they didn't have to eat their own dead weight just to live anot... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by WolvenHeart7 7 years ago
I remember first finding out that oarfish were real and being mystified.. For me it was kind of like my sea serpents dreams were 'real'. Beautiful fish, they are.
Comment icon #11 Posted by MissJatti 7 years ago
A lot of animals chase their tails at some point in their lives. But this one actually bites their tail off
Comment icon #12 Posted by DaiGer 7 years ago
I tasted one of those...
Comment icon #13 Posted by Hawkin 7 years ago
I tasted one of those... Did it taste like chicken?
Comment icon #14 Posted by DefenceMinisterMishkin 7 years ago
Everything tastes like chicken to DaiGer
Comment icon #15 Posted by DaiGer 7 years ago
It tasted like a domestic fowl.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Professor Buzzkill 7 years ago
Interesting. From the article it says that in Japan, when these fish are sighted it is taken as a warning sign of an earthquake. A few days after the fish was found, a 6.0 hit the South Island and was felt strongly around Otago where this fish washed up.
Comment icon #17 Posted by She-ra 7 years ago
Interesting. From the article it says that in Japan, when these fish are sighted it is taken as a warning sign of an earthquake. A few days after the fish was found, a 6.0 hit the South Island and was felt strongly around Otago where this fish washed up. WOW! Must be some sort of sensing they have then. I was wondering about this the other day so thanks for that...cool. Very weird.


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