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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Sea-riously Cool Giant Oarfish Facts

Here are some giant oarfish facts about the deep sea fish.

Ever wondered where all those Japanese legends that show long ribbon monsters come from? Are those monsters real or it is just the reel? Well, they are real. These monsters are inspired by oarfish. Giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne) is a species of bony fish. This species got its name from the pelvic fins that are shaped like an oar. The giant oarfish size can grow up to 672 in (56 ft) in length and can weigh up to 600 lb (272 kg). Their long, flat, tapering body is reflective silver and a dorsal fin runs along its length that it uses to swim. Regalecus glesne is a deep sea fish that is native to the Gulf of Mexico. This deep sea fish is also known as the king of herrings, ribbon fish, streamer fish, and Pacific oarfish. Some people refer to the king of herrings as a sea serpent, for the similarity in appearance when it appears near the surface. The fin rays that are close to the large head lengthen to form a uniquely bright red crest, that has evolved over the years as a defense mechanism against giant oarfish predators.

As most of the organs are located towards the head, the giant oarfish can survive even if its elongated tail is cut off. These fishes with genus regalecus live in the depths of oceans and are washed ashore when dying or injured. You can spot millions lying after a storm on the beach. As per the Florida Museum of Natural History, the long dorsal fin of oarfish originates above the eyes and extends over the length of the body of this species. Giant oarfish swimming is powered by the undulation of the long dorsal fin while the rest of the body remains straight.  

After reading these interesting giant oarfish facts, do read our other articles on warmouth and tilefish as well.

Giant Oarfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a giant oarfish?

Giant oarfish (family regalecidae) are the world's longest bony fish. Its shape is elongated, ribbon like and laterally narrow with a dorsal fin running from the upper body to the lower body. It is an extremely rare fish species, and though it was first described in 1772, the first live oarfish in its natural habitat was captured on camera by the US Navy in 2001 near Southern California.

What class of animal does a giant oarfish belong to?

Giant oarfish belong to the class actinopterygii, whose characteristics are that they are ray finned fishes. Oarfish have a swim bladder that is a characteristic of ray finned fishes. The pectoral fins of giant oarfish are stubby, though the pelvic fins are long and single rayed, resembling an oar.

How many giant oarfish are there in the world?

Not much is known about rare giant oarfish location because this fish species lives in the dark oceans and then die there. However, there may be thousands of giant sea serpents as they are known to lay eggs in a large number. Not a lot is known by the giant oarfish skeleton and body structure for the want of specimens.

Where does a giant oarfish live?

Giant oarfish are said to live at deep depths of the ocean, most commonly the epipelagic to mesopelagic layer of the ocean. This fish species lives at depth of 39,600 in (3,300 ft) in the ocean. If these fishes are washed ashore by the currents of water, they die.

What is a giant oarfish's habitat?

Giant oarfish are native to the Atlantic Ocean and are found at huge depths of the ocean. These fishes, when washed ashore, die because of the build-up of muscle mass.

Who do giant oarfish live with?

Oarfish are solitary animals that live with no one. Very little is known about giant oarfish habitat. This fish species prey on whatever comes in their way, most commonly this would be other groups of fishes.

How long does a giant oarfish live?

Giant oarfish can live more than ten years, depending on the type of water they live in. If they are washed ashore, they can’t breathe and will die instantaneously. These fishes can only survive in the depths of the ocean.

How do they reproduce?

Oarfish reproduce through spawning. This occurs in the month of July and September. After spawning is complete, the fertilized eggs are pelagic. They remain on the surface of the water till they hatch. It takes approximately three weeks from birth for these eggs to hatch.

What is their conservation status?

Their conservation status is Not Extinct. This sea serpent is an extremely rare species because they live in the depths of the ocean. Some people refer to them as ribbon fish because of their body forms. They come to the surface at night, allured by the boat’s lights, but they usually only come to the surface of water when they are unwell or are about to die.

Giant Oarfish Fun Facts

What do giant oarfish look like?

The body shape of a giant oarfish is slender, ribbon-like, and narrow with an elongated tail. Oarfish don't have scales on their bodies. The head is somewhat small and rounded. The jaws are protrusile (this is a common feature of lampiforms). They don't have any teeth, but have gill takers that help in catching prey. The dorsal fin of the oarfish runs along the full length. It has stubby pectoral fins and long oar shaped pelvic fins. The fin rays are extremely soft and may number up to 400.

Giant ocean oarfish swim up near the surface of the water when they are unwell.

How cute are they?

People don't find oarfish cute, they are often referred to as a sea serpent or sea monster. They are also acredited for inspiring the ribbon like sea monster that often appears in film franchises.

How do they communicate?

They are solitary animals. This sea serpent communicates only during reproduction. Not much is known about these oarfishes as they live in the dark parts of the ocean.

How big is a giant oarfish?

As it is the world's longest bony fish, giant oarfish length can grow up to beyond 432 in (36 ft). But according to researchers, specimens of giant oarfish with size of 672 (56 ft) have also been recorded. The maximum recorded weight of a giant oarfish is 600 lb (272 kg).

How fast can a giant oarfish swim?

Not much is known about the swimming speed of giant oarfish as these fishes spend most of their time in the depths of the oceans.

How much does a giant oarfish weigh?

Giant oarfish weight can go up to 600 lb (272 kg), though they are extremely thin side to side.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Females and males don't have a specific name, but they are distinguished by their different body structures.

What would you call a baby giant oarfish?

Baby giant oarfish are called larvae. After spawning, oarfish deposit their eggs on the surface of the water. These eggs are incubated by both the father and mother.

What do they eat?

Giant oarfish are carnivorous. Despite having an immense length, oarfish feed primarily on small marine creatures. They commonly feed on krill. Their diet also includes shrimp, plankton, squid and small fish.

Are they rare?

They are very rare. They only occasionally come to the surface, so they are not known by many people. They live and die in the depths of oceans, away from other creatures.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they don't make a good pet because although they are not dangerous animals, they live alone. They are not found with even their own kind. They won’t be able to survive in an aquarium as they are only found in the depths of the ocean and they need deep water to survive.

Did you know...

Oarfish are part of many Japanese folklore stories. Smaller than the giant oarfish, the Regalecus russelii (slender oarfish) is said to be messenger from the Sea God's Palace. When these fishes have washed ashore, they are of no use except for research because people have tried eating them, and they taste like gelatinous goo. Giant oarfish meat has a gelatin-like consistency, which makes it not suitable for eating. In history, when a giant oarfish washed ashore, it was considered as a prediction for an earthquake. In a rare event, two giant oarfish were caught alive in the nets of fisherman on the island of Okinawa in Japan.

What is the biggest oarfish ever recorded?

According to researchers, the longest oarfish ever recorded was 1320 in (110 ft) long. The giant oarfish comes under the family regalecidae and are species of oarfish. They are known as Regalicus glossin spread across polar regions. Giant oarfish are also named Pacific oarfish and streamer fish.

Can oarfish predict earthquakes?

No, oarfish can not predict earthquakes. This came to light after the 2011 earthquake killed 19,000 people and melted three nuclear reactors. The researchers connected the sightings of large numbers of oarfish on the shore to this incident because of folklore.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including tetra, or fluke fish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Giant oarfish coloring pages.

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