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The Mighty Oarfish

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce a creature making it’s very first debut on live video: the oarfish (Regalecus glesne.) I recommend watching the video from about 4:30 to 8:00 for extreme wonderment and stunning close-ups of this 22-foot-long giant.




Oarfish, the longest bony fish alive, are large, greatly elongated, deep-sea dwelling fishes, found in all temperate to tropical oceans yet rarely seen.  This particular video was shot in the Gulf of Mexico.

The name, oarfish, is presumably in reference to either their highly compressed and elongated bodies.  The occasional beachings of oarfish after storms, and their habit of lingering at the surface when sick or dying, make oarfish a probable source of many sea serpent tales.

Mark Benfield, a professor at Louisiana State University, was present when the footage of oarfish was taken.  He explained that there were actually five videos of oarfish taken between 2008 and 2011, through use of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).  Once they spotted the fish, the team followed it for about ten minutes, Benfield said.

“We weren’t looking for oarfish,” Benfield explained. “This was just sheer luck. We happened to be in the right place at the right time and we were able to spend some time with this oarfish.”

That time paid off. From the footage, Benfield and his colleagues discovered an abundance of information about the creature: that it can be found at least 1,640 feet (500 meters) below the ocean’s surface, and that it swims with a linear propeller.  Benfield’s findings were published earlier this week in the publication Journal of Fish Biology.