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August 15, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Animal of the Week – Oarfish

Say hello to the Oarfish, the world’s longest bony fish. Often referred to as “the king of herrings”, these fish have been known to grow up to 17 metres long. Their preferred habitat is between 600 and 1000 metres below the sea surface, but they have been known to wash up on shore after violent storms or to surface when sick or dying. Because of this, it is believed that the oarfish may be responsible for many of the legendary sightings of sea serpents.

The Oarfish’s long ribbon-like body is in fact scaleless and its dorsal fin is topped by up to 400 small spines. When feeding, these bizarre fish position their bodies vertically in the water column and swim straight up. There has even been an account from a New Zealand researcher which described the oarfish as giving off “electric shocks” when touched.

In ancient Japanese folklore, Oarfish were known as the “Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace“ and were believed to herald earthquakes. Eerily enough, between November 2009 and March 2010, 19 rare Oarfish washed up on the coast of Japan. I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone that the Tōhoku Earthquake (the most powerful earthquake to have ever hit Japan) hit almost exactly a year after this.
On a lighter note, I think the oarfish may be a contender for “coolest hairdo in the ocean”.

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