That picture, posted this month on the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and Aquarium Facebook page, shows an oarfish, after all. The Otago Daily Times described the elusive deep-sea creature as a “self-amputating, vertically swimming, serpent-like” specimen. In an interview with the newspaper, a marine expert called it a “bizarre, rare fish.”
Perhaps you have never heard of an oarfish, which is fine! I hadn’t until this morning. They can grow to be super long and are apparently quite rare to see, at least in the area in which this one was found. Their many talents include swimming in a weird way and also freaking people out, which they’ve been doing for centuries.
National Geographic once noted that “oarfish were likely the source of many historic tales of sea serpents and sea monsters” and that “a sputtering oarfish may look like a terrifying sea monster,” but is, in fact, harmless to people and boaters.
Here is a different oarfish photo, from 2013:
Here’s what an oarfish looks like in the water:
The (dead) oarfish found this month was on the shore at Dunedin’s Otago Harbour on April 17, according to the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre blog. It was almost 10 feet long and its face looks like this and, hmmm, let’s see what else . . . oh yes, it has vanished.
It’s still a little unclear what happened. Did the oarfish wash back out to sea? Did someone take it? That might not be the best idea in the world.
“From what I heard, the fish wouldn’t have been good to eat — it would have been quite gelatinous,” University of Otago NZ Marine Studies Centre manager Tessa Mills told the Daily Times.
The newspaper also spoke with Department of Conservation service manager David Agnew, who said he’d be “surprised” if the oarfish had already been swept out back into the water.
Mr Agnew estimated the fish weighed more than 50kg and would have been difficult to carry.There had been no reports of vehicle tracks to the salt marsh where the fish was found.If the tide had taken the fish, there was a “50:50” chance of it washing up elsewhere, he said.The fish was not protected by the Wildlife Act and could be legally taken but he discouraged anyone from eating it, as the cause of its death was unknown, he said.“You’d be taking a chance.”
Please do not eat this gelatinous fish.