The oarfish , also known as the end of the world fish , king of herrings, earthquake fish and regaleco , is a species found in the depths of the ocean, famous for the myths related to its existence. Despite being associated with large mythical sea monsters, the regaleco is nothing more than a large fish that feeds on small organisms.
The depths of the ocean are regions that arouse human curiosity. This is because, after 200 meters below the surface, humanity has only explored 10% of the local biodiversity . Therefore, information about the species that live there is scarce.
Therefore, when people come across animals like oarfish , they may be shocked and impressed by the existence of this type of life. This would explain why there are so many myths related to the animal, as it is different from all types of fish that are found on the surface.
Oarfish Japanese folklore
The fame of end-of-the-world fish is linked to Japanese myths and the occasions on which they were found by humans. In Japan, the oarfish is part of local folklore, in which it is called the “Messenger of the Palace of the Sea God”.
According to local beliefs, when many rocks rise to the surface, this is a sign of natural disasters. This idea gained momentum when in Japan, before the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, a series of oarfish were observed off the city’s coast.
There have been other similar situations , such as in 2017, when six oarfish were found off the coast of the Philippines, just six days before the earthquake that killed six people. Despite these coincidences, experts believe that this link has no scientific evidence.
On the other hand, researchers are considering the possibility of seismic shocks, caused by tectonic plates, impacting the daily lives of these animals. After all, if an oarfish lives very close to the seabed, as it is sensitive to large movements, it can be thrown to the surface. However, this phenomenon is not used to predict earthquakes or tsunamis.
The most plausible explanation for why these animals appear on the sea surface is their sensitivity to sea currents and storms. Because they have a sensitive body, they are shaken by large movements, which damage their structure, causing them to float to the most visible regions of the ocean. This explains why most of the oarfish found in the coastal region are dead or close to death.
Can you eat oarfish?
Fishing for oarfish is not a common practice, as these creatures live in deep waters. But, in addition, the animal’s meat is not tasty and suitable for human consumption. According to people who found the animal and prepared its meat for consumption, the earthquake fish “tastes like gooey jelly.”
A very rare Oarfish pic.twitter.com/EroeUaQYbF— Nature is Amazing ☘️ (@AMAZlNGNATURE) December 24, 2023
Where do oarfish live?
Oarfish can be found in all the planet’s oceans, except the polar regions. Hence it is considered a “cosmopolitan species.” However, it is more common in tropical areas of temperate oceans.
It is believed to be a migratory fish that follows its main food source: krill. However, it also usually feeds on small crustaceans and fish, as well as squid.
However, sightings of specimens swimming near the surface, up to 20 meters deep, have been reported.
Is oarfish dangerous?
Despite its monstrous appearance, the oarfish does not pose a threat to other animals. Maybe only for the plankton species that they use as food . They are solitary animals that lead their lives away from the light, in the deepest depths of temperate seas .
How many oarfish are left in the world?
It’s hard to tell how many oarfish are left in the world because they live in deep parts of the ocean and yet we haven’t explored much. Oarfish are usually on their own and not easy to find, which makes it hard to find. Scientists haven’t studied them a lot, so we don’t have a clear idea of their population. We might get more information from recent studies, but exploring the deep sea is tough, adding to the challenge.
But what are the characteristics of an oarfish?
- Type of Fish: The oarfish is a big fish that lives deep in the ocean. Its scientific name is Regalecus glesne, and some people call it the end-of-the-world fish.
- Special Features: Unlike other fish, it doesn’t have scales on its body. Instead, it has a soft, jelly-like skin with a shiny coating made of something called guanine.
- Where They Live: Oarfish live in deep areas of the ocean, around 200 to 3,200 meters below the surface. But their soft skin can get hurt in storms or strong currents.
- Eating Habits: Their main food is plankton and small creatures like shrimp and tiny fish. They don’t have teeth, so they use their gills to catch and eat these small organisms.
- Size and Looks: According to the Guinness Book, the oarfish is the longest fish. It looks like a long, silver ribbon with pink fins and small spines for protection. Its name comes from its shape, resembling an oar.
- Size Variation: Some oarfish are huge, up to 17 meters long, but most are around 8 meters.
- Where They’re Found: Oarfish can live in different parts of the world, adapting to both warm and cool climates. They are often seen near the coasts of seas.