Tyson Roberts' sea monster
December 10, 2012
Oarfish have two red dorsal fin crests, whereas other fish have one. Their eel-like body may grow to more than 8 meters in lenght
STRI Research Associate Tyson Roberts authored a new book on one of the most bizarre and rare fishes in the sea: the oceanic oarfish, Regalecus, ‘King of the Herrings'. Its name comes from the North Sea where it was thought to signal the arrival of great herring schools. In Japan the fish is considered to be the harbinger of earthquakes or even a stock market collapse. It may also be the origin of several “sea monster” myths.
Oarfish have two red dorsal fin crests, whereas other fish have one. Their eel-like body may grow to more than 8 meters in lenght. Long-distance ocean drifters, they float in the upper 300 meters of the water column where they often hang vertically and still, at which time divers can get close enough to touch them.
All specimens larger than 1.5 meters have shortened their bodies, often several times, by autotomy, the process of selfamputation. Apparently healthy oarfish are repeatedly found dead and washed up on specific beaches. There are two species worldwide, one in warm waters and one in cold.