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(via What Killed The Giant Oarfish In California - Business Insider)
It’s thought that oarfish are not actually all that strong of swimmers. They hang vertically in the water - head up, tail down - and undulate their dorsal fins to move around, a bit like a sea horse. So unusual currents pushing them into unaccustomed shallow areas may well have been the culprit. Staff at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, whose staff got to dissect one of them, seems to agree with Deep Sea News, as otherwise it seemed fairly healthy and in good condition.
Jumbo squid ARE fairly strong swimmers, and they manage to beach themselves here in Southern California pretty regularly.
mOARFISH, moar problems?
Just this past week, the beaches of Southern California and Baja Mexico have been inundated by monsters from the briny deep. Well actually only one monster, the Oarfish. But it was two separate incidents! Of course you only need two data points to make a trend, so clearly there must be something wrong with the … → Read More: mOARFISH, moar problems? http://dlvr.it/4BM6ln
Some reasons why two oarfish might have beached themselves in So. CA in the past week…passing this on to my coworkers who’ve been discussing it.
18-foot Oarfish Discovered in California (but not the first...)
CNN: A marine science instructor’s late-afternoon snorkel off the Southern California coast last Sunday was first met with shock and soon excitement when she discovered a gigantic oarfish, a deep-sea creature that remains little known to the science world and people outside.
While they were still grad students, some co-workers of mine found another one, still alive, near the Wrigley Marine Lab at Catalina Island in 2006. I jounalled about it and some other cool fish here…
What most people don’t realize is that these guys don’t swim like other fish. Instead, they hang vertically in the water column - head up, tail down - and move by undulating their dorsal fin. You can see some video of it here:
These are juveniles:
Marcus Elieser Bloch, from Ichtylogie, ou Histoire naturelle, génerale et particuliére des poissons, 1797.
This is what is now called Regalecus glesne - the oarfish or less commonly, king-of-the-herrings. Only the artist must not have ad a complete fish to work with or been drawing from a description, although the colors are accurate. Here’s what they actually look like. The thing that always strikes me as funny about them, besides their gigantic mouths, is their tiny caudal fins, which tip up at about a 45° angle. They actually use their dorsal fins for propulsion as they hang vertically in the water, tail down.
They always seem to shock people because of how big they are. Some coworkers of mine found one dying near Catalina Island; I have some photos of it here.
King of herrings (Regalecus glesne)
Chordata > Actinopterygii > Lampriformes > Regalecidae > Regalecus
Poor thing, trapped in a net, though the chances of that happening to you are notably greater when you are the longest fish in the world!
The King of Herrings, an oarfish, completely unrelated to actual herrings, has been documented to reach a whopping 17m!
Rarely sighted, it hangs out in all the world’s oceans in the “twilight zone” a.k.a. mesopelagic zone (300-1000m), and is thought to be responsible for some sea serpent sightings!
Um, I don’t see a net there. I see its elongated pelvic fins and its long head spines, which are actually part of its dorsal fin. This is actually its normal position in the water column - head up, tail down, and it moves itself around with undulations of its dorsal fin, which you can see in the above photo and a little more in this video:
Not real clear, but you can see it’s position.