Video of a giant oarfish undulating through the deep sea offers an intriguing glimpse of this sea creature that might have been mistaken for a sea serpent in the past.
The video was published in the June edition of Journal of Fish Biology, along with other videos highlighting this rarely seen creature. The video, billed as the longest and best quality of the fish to date, shows an oarfish swimming
about 360 feet below the surface and was captured by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in 2011. A team of scientists was exploring the effects of the Horizon Deepwater Oil Spill.
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Little is known about the oarfish, sometimes called a ribbon fish, because of the depth of its habitat, usually about 1,500 feet or deeper beneath the surface. The fish have washed up on shores at various times. In particular, about 20 stranded themselves on Japanese beaches right before the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Although some people have speculated that the oarfish knew what was going to happen, there is no scientific evidence for that.
Oarfish have been documented reaching lengths of 26 feet, although Louisiana State University researcher Mark Benfield told LiveScience that they could reach 50 feet in length
The bony fish swims with its head upright and tail hanging below, which allows it to move easily in any direction, Benfield said. The oarfish doesn’t have teeth and eats primarily plankton, jellyfish and squid
, according to UPI.com. Benfield said the creature didn’t turn from the lights of the ROV, so it may not have many predators.
The UPI article included a photo of a 23-foot-long, 300-pound oarfish being held by U.S. Navy servicemen. It was found on the shore near San Diego. In October 2012, a 20-foot specimen washed ashore at Cabo San Lucas, and a 12-foot oarfish washed ashore in Florida in 2010.
Some people speculate that tales of sea serpents, and even the Loch Ness monster, may be attributed to oarfish sightings because of the creature’s size and shape.
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