A rare three-metre Oarfish has washed up on a beach in New Zealand’s Otago Harbour, but it’s just a baby as they are known to grow to more than 11 metres in length.
Little is known about the Oarfish, which lives in the deep ocean, although recent video has shown them swimming vertically with their pectoral fins out to the side, hence the name.
The species found in New Zealand was the southern Regalecus glesne.
The New Zealand Marine Studies Centre says that there have only been five reports of oarfish found on the country’s beaches in the past 150 years.
The fish have been dubbed “real-life sea serpents” and have a reputation for bringing misfortune – probably because they are often found washed up after storms or earthquakes.
The Marine Studies centre writes:
Tyson Roberts wrote a book on Oarfish in 2012 and he suggested that Oarfish “self-amputate” their tails. This is his theory based on finding specimens that have obviously healed up after losing their tails. It has been suggested by others that this might be caused by injuries or attacks by other creatures. Perhaps they shed parts of their tails as a defence mechanism – like skinks and lizards – to help them escape. As long as the injury is not too bad it may heal and grow back. But who knows what goes on in the deep ocean and the lives of these amazing fish!
And here’s one in action…
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.